Venezuela's Maduro denounces election call but says ready to talk

Dwayne Harmon
January 28, 2019

"Do not test the United States on our resolve to protect our people", Pompeo told the U.N. Security Council Saturday.

The U.S. State Department has accepted a new Venezuelan envoy in Washington who was appointed by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Pompeo's statement says Vecchio met with Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, who reaffirmed the administration's strong support for Guaido.

Guaido said he is acting in accordance with two articles of the constitution that give the National Assembly president the right to hold power temporarily and to call for new elections.

Earlier Venezuela's military attache to Washington Jose Luis Silva broke ranks with Maduro and urged his "brothers in the military" to bcak Guaido.

"Any violence and intimidation against USA diplomatic personnel, Venezuela's democratic leader, Juan Guiado, or the National Assembly itself would represent a grave assault on the rule of law and will be met with a significant response", John Bolton said on Twitter.

The embattled leader said on Wednesday that Caracas would break off diplomatic relations with the U.S. and gave it a 72-hour deadline to pull out its diplomats from the country. He also spoke by phone with Guaido and reaffirmed USA support, said Kimberly Breier, the current assistant secretary of state for the region.

Germany and France quickly followed, backing the eight-day ultimatum.

France and Britain joined Spain and Germany in turning up the pressure on Maduro, saying they would follow the US and others in recognizing Guaido as president unless Venezuela calls a new presidential election within eight days.

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"Any violence and intimidation against US diplomatic personnel, Venezuela's democratic leader, Juan Guiado, or the National Assembly itself would represent a grave assault on the rule of law and will be met with a significant response", Bolton tweeted Sunday. Last week, a small Venezuelan national guard unit stole a stockpile of weapons in what it said was an attempt to oust Maduro.

President Donald Trump's national security adviser is sending a new warning to the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Washington, which was among the first to recognise Guaido as leader of the oil-rich country, urged the world on Saturday to "pick a side" on Venezuela and financially disconnect from Maduro's government.

"Faced with the grave situation it is going through, I ask the Lord that a just and peaceful solution is sought and achieved in order to overcome the crisis, respecting human rights [and] the good of all the people of the country", he said.

The Vatican hasn't said if it would back opposition leader Juan Guaido in his claim for the presidency, which has been backed by the United States and other regional leaders.

Venezuela abandoned its call for all USA diplomats to vacate the socialist country Sunday as the Trump administration and Western allies attempt to push President Nicolas Maduro out of power.

The Venezuelan leader told the Turkish network he has sent many messages to President Trump but has not received a response because "I think he's overwhelmed with his domestic problem and, I believe, I think he despises us". From Feb. 10-15 the military is planning larger military exercises that Maduro described as the "most important in the history of Venezuela".

"If they want to leave Venezuela, they should all go, and now".

The coordinated announcements are the most explicit yet from European Union countries as the 28-member bloc struggles to draft a joint statement with regards to its position on the crisis in Venezuela. It says it will provide a 30-day window for negotiating with USA officials about setting up a "U.S. interests office" in Venezuela and a similar Venezuelan office in the United States.

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