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Trump Phones Juan Guaido to Express Support as US Ramps Up Pressure on Maduro

CC0 / The White House / President Donald Trump talks on the phone aboard Air Force One during a flight to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address a joint gathering of House and Senate Republicans, Thursday, January 26, 2017 (File photo).
President Donald Trump talks on the phone aboard Air Force One during a flight to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address a joint gathering of House and Senate Republicans, Thursday, January 26, 2017 (File photo). - Sputnik International
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The US president broke his almost week-long silence on Venezuela after recognizing Guaido as interim president with a phone call, in which he reiterated his support for the opposition leader, whom Washington recognizes as the interim president of the Bolivarian Republic.

US President Donald Trump spoke to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, reiterating the US' support for the opposition's "fight to regain democracy" Wednesday, White House Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a press briefing.

The US president spoke to Guaido to "congratulate him on his historic assumption of the presidency and to reinforce President Trump's strong support for Venezuela's fight to regain its democracy," Sanders told reporters.

The United States recently recognized the self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela, while Russia, China, Turkey and Mexico and a number of other countries continue to recognize Nicolas Maduro, who won the country's most recent election, as the only legitimate leader of the country.

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Trump and Guaido "agreed to maintain regular communication to support Venezuela's path back to stability, and to rebuild the bilateral relationship between the United States and Venezuela," Sanders said.

"I thank the President of the United States Donald Trump for the phone call, in which he repeated the words of full support for our work, the promise of humanitarian assistance and recognition of us as the president [of Venezuela] from the part of his administration," Guaido wrote on Twitter.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA in an attempt to curb Maduro's financing of the military. The Venezuelan government, for its part, has started an investigation against Guaido, imposed a travel ban on him and frozen his assets, MSN reports.

In the meantime, Maduro accused Trump of ordering Colombian mafia to assassinate him.

"Donald Trump has without doubt given an order to kill me and has told the government of Colombia and the Colombian mafia to kill me," Maduro told Sputnik Wednesday. "If something happens to me one day, Donald Trump and Colombian President Ivan Duque will be responsible for everything that happens to me."

Nevertheless, Maduro stated he is ready to engage in negotiations with the opposition, with participation of international mediators.

"I am ready to sit down at the negotiating table with the opposition so that we could talk about what benefits Venezuela," Maduro said. "There are several governments and organisations in the world that have demonstrated their sincere concern about what is happening in Venezuela, and they have called for a dialogue," he added.

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