WASHINGTON – The White House rejected the offer of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro to start a dialogue in Caracas or Washington with his counterpart Donald Trump, and reiterated that he will only meet with the Venezuelan leader when “democracy is restored” in the Caribbean country.
Speaking to EFE, a spokesman for the National Security Council of the White House reacted to the tweet that Maduro addressed to Trump on Monday, in which he called on him to open a “dialogue in Caracas or Washington DC.”
“As we said last August, President Trump will speak with pleasure to the leader of Venezuela as soon as certain steps are taken and the Maduro regime restores democracy to that great country,” said the spokesman, who requested anonymity.
The steps that the United States considers key before any dialogue with Venezuela are “respect for the Constitution of Venezuela; the holding of free, fair and credible elections, the release of political prisoners” and the end of “all human rights violations,” according to the source.
In addition, Washington demands that “the oppression of the great people of Venezuela be stopped and the entry of international humanitarian aid into Venezuela be allowed immediately,” he added.
The response of the White House is similar to the one given last August when Maduro proposed to speak by telephone and Trump responded, in a statement, that he would communicate “with the Venezuelan leader as soon as democracy is restored in the country.”
The spokesman recalled that Maduro’s invitation to Trump comes at a tense moment for the hemispheric dialogue, because Peru has declared that the Venezuelan leader will not be welcome at the Summit of the Americas that will gather the presidents of the entire continent in Lima in April.
Maduro’s tweet “comes shortly after the people of the Americas stood up and declared that the dictatorial behavior of the Maduro regime is not welcome in a positive and democratic forum like the Summit of the Americas in April,” the spokesman stressed.
Despite the decision of the Peruvian Government, which won the support of the United States and the 11 countries that together with Peru form the so-called Lima Group, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry reiterated this weekend that Maduro plans to attend the Summit of the Americas.
The White House has not yet announced whether Trump will attend the continental meeting held every three years, but if it does, it will be his first trip to Latin America of his Presidency.