WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump rejected a request of a telephone call with his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, the White House said on Friday.
Trump has asked that Maduro “respect Venezuela’s constitution, hold free and fair elections, release political prisoners, cease all human rights violations, and stop oppressing Venezuela’s great people. ... Instead Maduro has chosen the path of dictatorship,” according to a White House statement.
It added that “President Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democracy is restored in that country.”
The statement came shortly after Trump told reporters that “a military option” to the Venezuelan political and economic crisis was still possible.
However, the Pentagon confirmed that it had “not received any orders with regards to Venezuela,” adding that “if called upon, we are prepared to support ... government efforts to protect our national interests and safeguard US citizens.”
Venezuela has been marred in a deepening economic crisis and political stalemate.
The July 30 election of a new National Constituent Assembly, convened by President Maduro, which the country’s opposition boycotted, has been widely condemned by the international community.