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Won’t rule out military option in Venezuela: Trump

Washington: US President Donald Trump has said that he would not rule out the possibility of a military intervention in Venezuela in response to the South American nations descent into political chaos, the media reported.

Speaking to reporters on Friday at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, Trump deplored Venezuela’s growing humanitarian crisis and declared that all options remain on the table, including a potential military intervention, reports The Washington Post.

“We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option,” Trump said.

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

“This is our neighbour. You know, we are all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering, and they are dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary,” the President added.

The Trump administration has slapped sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after a July 30 vote that allowed him to replace the opposition-held National Assembly with a new 545-member Constituent Assembly (ANC) filled with his supporters escalating fears of turning the country into dictatorship, reports CNN.

Trump’s comments came after a meeting at his golf club with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

In response, Venezuela’s Defence Minister Gen. Vladimir Padrino called Trump’s talk of a military intervention an act of “craziness” and “supreme extremism”, The Washington Post reported.

Padrino, a close ally of Maduro, said: “With this extremist elite that’s in charge in the US, who knows what will happen to the world?”

Meanwhile, the White House on Friday night issued a statement saying it had rejected a request from Maduro to speak by phone with Trump.

The statement said: “The US stands with the people of Venezuela in the face of their continued oppression by the Maduro regime.

“Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democracy is restored in that country.”

Venezuela has been marred in a deepening economic crisis and political stalemate.

Since Maduro announced the formation of the ANC in April, violent nationwide protests have taken place resulting in the deaths of over 100 people.

–IANS