Iran condemns USA military threats against Venezuela

Venezuela expected to dominate Pence's Latin American trip

Maduro's actions have precipitated an economic collapse and drawn worldwide condemnation, including from President Trump, who on Friday warned of a "possible military option" to confront Maduro's government.

Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Latin America comes amid unrest in Venezuela and concern by its neighbors about a possible American military role.

Trump's statement "aims to drag Latin America and the Caribbean into a conflict that would permanently alter stability, peace and security in our region", Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said, reading a statement from President Nicolas Maduro.

The menace, however, also gave Maduro's regime an unexpected opportunity to substantiate its daily refrain that it is a victim of a Washington plot to grab control of its oil reserves, the biggest in the world.

"We want to express gratitude for all the expressions of solidarity and rejection of the use of force from governments around the world, including Latin America", said Mr Arreaza, in a short speech on Saturday. More than 120 people have died in anti-government protests since April.

Regional alliance Mercosur added it rejected the use of force against Venezuela, despite having indefinitely suspended the country last week amid global condemnation of Maduro's new, all-powerful legislative superbody. In a watershed development, 11 Latin American countries and Canada signed a hard-hitting resolution last week that calls the Venezuelan government illegitimate and demands a return to democracy.


"Venezuela categorically rejects the unfriendly and warmongering declarations of Trump, who has threatened us with a military intervention, in violation of United Nations principles and global law", said the foreign minister.

Nicolás Maduro Guerra, the son of the Venezuelan President, is threatening to seize the White House with rifles if President Donald Trump sends the U.S. military to his nation.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said the Defense Department has not been ordered to make any military movements related to Venezuela - but is prepared if need be. "And by the way, I am not going to rule out a military option", Trump said following a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his New Jersey golf club.

President Maduro's son responded to Trump on Saturday, but appeared confused on the location of the White House. "Will president Trump be the president a year from now in the US?'" Patricio Navia, a political analyst, said.

Pence arrived in South America hoping to reassure US allies and add his voice to the coalition of nations throughout the hemisphere trying to isolate Venezuela and pressure Maduro to change course.

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