Donald Trump threatens military action against Venezuela and accuses President Nicolas Maduro of letting his people 'suffer and die'

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President Donald Trump has said he will not rule out military action to tackle the continued crisis in Venezuela.

Mr Trump said people in the Latin American country are “suffering and they are dying” as he said all options remain on the table including a potential military intervention.

Venezuela’s defence minister hit back at his comments, calling them “craziness” and “supreme extremism”.

The Venezuelan government is facing mounting criticism and has been accused of undermining democracy after President Nicolas Maduro introduced a new constituent assembly which holds the power to rewrite the constitution and override parliament.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (L) and US President Donald Trump (AFP/Getty Images)

The US recently imposed sanctions on President Maduro and branded him a dictator.

Speaking to reporters at his Bedminster golf club on Friday, Mr Trump said: “We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option.

“A military operation and military option is certainly something that we could pursue.”

Defence minister General Vladimir Padrino responded to the comments, saying: “With this extremist elite that’s in charge in the US, who knows what will happen to the world?”

On Thursday, Mr Trump said he discussed Venezuela along with North Korea and Afghanistan in a security briefing with top national security aides and his vice president Mike Pence.

A demonstrator holds a sign that reads “S.O.S Venezuela is Bleeding” at a protest (REUTERS)

Mr Pence is travelling to Colombia on Sunday to begin a regional trip that is expected to include discussions on how to deal with Mr Maduro for allegedly trampling his country’s constitutional order in the power grab.

Mr Maduro has tried to deflect the pressure from Washington and on Thursday he said he wanted to meet Mr Trump, perhaps next month at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“Mr Donald Trump, here is my hand,” the president told delegates at the constitutional assembly, adding that he wanted as strong a relationship with the US as he had with Russia.

Warnings: Donald Trump, flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (REUTERS)

But late on Friday the White House rejected the request to meet Mr Trump.

A statement by the White House press secretary said the president “will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democracy is restored in that country”.

“Trump has asked that Maduro respect Venezuela’s constitution, hold free and fair elections, release political prisoners, cease all human rights violations, and stop oppressing Venezuela’s great people. … Instead Maduro has chosen the path of dictatorship,” the statement said.

This week, the government-packed Supreme Court in Venezuela ordered the arrest of two Caracas-area mayors for protecting protesters in their districts.

And on Friday, Tarek William Saab, installed as chief prosecutor after the constitutional assembly ousted his outspoken predecessor, warned that he would reopen investigations against protesters for the use of violence and even destruction of trees used to build barricades at demonstrations.


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