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23 Jan, 2019 19:18

Pompeo urges Maduro to step aside & Venezuelan military to help 'restore democracy'

Pompeo urges Maduro to step aside & Venezuelan military to help 'restore democracy'

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step down and called on the country’s military to support efforts to restore “democracy” in a move which could be seen as encouraging an armed coup.

Senior US administration figures told reporters that “all options” including military options were on the table if Maduro’s government retaliates against any members of the National Assembly, which did not recognize his legitimacy as president.

Trump recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president on Wednesday in a move seen as designed to precipitate US-supported regime change in the country. Washington did not recognize the election of Maduro last year, saying his rule was “illegitimate.”

Throwing his weight behind Guaido, Trump said his decision to declare himself interim president was "courageous" and promised the US would support efforts to establish a transitional government.

Also on rt.com Megaphone diplomacy: US envoy Nikki Haley calls for ouster of Venezuela’s Maduro in street protest

For months, US officials have openly been calling for regime change in Venezuela. In September, former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called for Maduro to be ousted at a protest outside the UN headquarters in New York, saying the US would "fight for" Venezuela "until Maduro is gone."

Maduro has accused the US of leading a coup agasnst him and fomenting "instability and violence" in Venezuela.

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticized Washington's treatment of Venezuela and said that the US's open support of opposition forces in the country made them "unwilling" to seek reconciliation with Maduro. Lavrov said Trump's actions in Venezuela were "very alarming" and "indicated that the US policy of destabilizing governments it does not like remains a priority."

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