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Pence defends Trump’s military threat against Venezuela



US President Donald Trump’s military threat against Venezuela showed his “resolve” to help the neighboring country amid a political crisis, Vice President Mike Pence says, adding that Washington was looking for a “peaceable” solution.

“We have many options for Venezuela, but the president also remains confident that working with all of our allies across Latin America we can achieve a peaceable solution,” Pence said during a joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in Cartagena on Monday.

Trump came under fire after saying Friday that he was considering a range of options, “including a possible military option if necessary” to repair the “dangerous mess” in Venezuela.

Political tensions in Venezuela skyrocketed after Caracas announced plans to establish a Constituent Assembly to take over the opposition-controlled parliament and rewrite the constitution. The opposition saw the move as an overt attempt by President Maduro to accumulate power.

The government in Caracas has called the US president’s threat “reckless” and “craziness.” The opposition has also rejected any manner of foreign military intervention.

Trump’s threat has likewise prompted condemnations from all Latin American countries, including the ones that opposed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay,  Uruguay, Mexico, Peru and Chile all rejected Trump’s threat to use force against Venezuela.

In another attempt to clarify Trump’s remarks, Pence said in the Colombian city of Cartagena that Washington was going to use its “full economic and diplomatic weight to help restore democracy in Venezuela.”

He did not rule out further sanctions down the road, saying the US was looking at a “full range of economic sanctions” including bans that targeted Venezuela’s oil industry.

Last week, the US Department of the Treasury announced new sanctions against several members of the Constituent Assembly who are linked to Maduro.

The department had already slapped sanctions on the Venezuelan leader by freezing his assets in the United States, banning traveling to the country, and prohibiting Americans from doing business with him.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said in reaction to the latest sanctions that the Trump White House was “making a fool of itself in front of the world.”

Pence’s trip to Colombia marked the beginning of a regional tour that experts believe would be centered on Venezuela.

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