Presence of Russian military may be expanded, says Venezuela Foreign Minister Arreaza

Moscow [Russia]: Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza on Monday said the presence of Russian military could be expanded in the Latin American country.

“We need to provide for equipment maintenance and exchange military and technical information. This work has been going on since 2001 when we signed an agreement on military cooperation. Currently, a commission of specialists is present on the territory of Venezuela and, no doubt, it may be expanded,” TASS quoted Arreaza as saying.

In a press conference held at Venezuelan Embassy here, a day after meeting his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Arreaza told reporters that Venezuela will be prepared for any scenario, including armed aggression by the United States.

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“We will be ready for any scenario, but we put the emphasis on diplomacy first,” Arreaza said.

“We are for peace and we wish to talk to everybody about peace, but if the United States prefers a military path, we have our armed forces, our people’s militia, and the people, and we will be prepared not only to resist and fight back but to overpower and destroy any army, however strong it might be,” he said.

Arreaza visited Moscow on April 30, after the Venezuelan opposition led by interim President Juan Guaido carried out a new attempt to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

At least 300 people were injured in violent rallies after Guaido urged the military to support the protests. The troops, however, remained loyal to Maduro.

Following the failed coup attempt, US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo said that “military action is possible,” and that “if that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do,” Sputnik reported.

Guaido has also asked the US military to intervene in the crisis-struck South American nation.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to hold talks with the Pompeo on Monday on the sidelines of the ministerial session of the Arctic Council in Finland.

Russia and the US have taken diametrically opposing stands in Venezuela’s political crisis. The two countries have traded warnings against each other’s interference in the country’s internal affairs.


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