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Talks with Putin over Venezuela crisis were 'very positive' says Trump

The US has imposed tough sanctions against Venezuela.

Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump said he had “very positive” talks with Russian president Vladamir Putin over escalating tensions in Venezuela. 

The South American country has seen rioting on the streets of the capital, Caracas, over the past week which left four people dead and hundreds more injured. 

It comes as opposition leader Juan Guaido – who claims last year’s election was illegitimate – continues efforts to rally support from the military in a bid to oust incumbent president Nicolas Maduro. 

The US has thrown its weight behind Guaido, and has imposed sanctions on the country, while others including Russia and China are backing Maduro. 

The US said it has not taken military intervention off the table and was watching the situation closely. 

However, Trump adopted a conciliatory tone after a more than hour-long conversation with Vladimir Putin on the Venezuela crisis on Friday, describing talks with his Russian counterpart as “very positive”.

“He is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela,” Trump said of Putin. 

“And I feel the same way. We want to get some humanitarian aid. Right now people are starving.”

US-Russian tensions have spiked over the months-long standoff in Venezuela, and the Kremlin’s assessment of the Trump-Putin call differed from that coming from the White House.

“Interference in internal affairs [and] attempts to change the leadership in Caracas through force undermine the prospects for a peaceful settlement of the conflict,” said a Russian statement.

“Vladimir Putin stated that only the Venezuelan people have the right to decide the future of their country,” it added.

The United States is insisting Maduro’s days are numbered, but experts say its options for breaking the stalemate are limited, and that Washington may have overestimated the opposition leader’s strength.

Fresh bid

Opposition leader Juan Guaido will make a fresh bid on Saturday to rally Venezuela’s armed forces behind him with protests at military bases in the crisis-hit country.

The protest call by Guaido – the head of the National Assembly legislature, who is recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries, comes just days after he urged the military to rise up against the socialist president, Nicolas Maduro.

A small group of military personnel heeded Guaido’s call to rise up on Tuesday, but the effort petered out, triggering two days of protests against the government in which four people were killed and several hundred injured.

With reporting from AFP - © AFP 2019

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