Trump considers military intervention in Venezuela an 'option'
Updated 09:36, 04-Feb-2019
CGTN

U.S. President Donald Trump said military intervention in Venezuela was "an option" as Western nations boost pressure on socialist leader Nicolas Maduro to step down, while the troubled OPEC nation's ally Russia warned against "destructive meddling."

The United States, Canada and several Latin American countries have disavowed Maduro over his disputed re-election last year and recognized self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido as the country's rightful leader.

Trump said U.S. military intervention was under consideration in an interview with CBS aired on Sunday.

"Certainly, it's something that's on the – it's an option," Trump said, adding that Maduro requested a meeting months ago.

"I've turned it down because we're very far along in the process," he said in a "Face the Nation" interview. "So, I think the process is playing out."

The Trump administration last week issued crippling sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA, a key source of revenue for the country, which is experiencing medicine shortages and malnutrition.

Maduro, who has overseen an economic collapse and the exodus of millions of Venezuelans, maintains the backing of Russia, China and Turkey, and the critical support of the military.

Russia, a major creditor to Venezuela in recent years, urged restraint.

"The international community's goal should be to help (Venezuela), without destructive meddling from beyond its borders," Alexander Shchetinin, head of the Latin America department at Russia's Foreign Ministry, told Interfax.

Venezuelan opposition supporters living in Colombia take part in a demonstration to back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido's calls for early elections, at Plaza de Bolivar square in Bogota, on February 2, 2019. /VCG Photo‍

Venezuelan opposition supporters living in Colombia take part in a demonstration to back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido's calls for early elections, at Plaza de Bolivar square in Bogota, on February 2, 2019. /VCG Photo‍

No election plan

France and Austria said they would recognize Guaido if Maduro did not respond to the European Union's call for a free and fair presidential election by Sunday night.

"We don't accept ultimatums from anyone," Maduro said in a defiant interview with Spanish television channel Antena 3 carried out last week and broadcast on Sunday.

"I refuse to call for elections now – there will be elections in 2024. We don't care what Europe says."

He proposed early parliamentary elections on Saturday, seeking to shore up his crumbling rule after a senior general defected to the opposition and tens of thousands thronged the streets in protest at his government.

Source(s): Reuters