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    National security adviser John Bolton listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Washington

    Maduro Claims Trump Ordered Colombian Government, Mafia to Kill Him

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    CARACAS, January 30 (Sputnik) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told Sputnik in an exclusive interview that he was sure that US President Donald Trump ordered the Colombian government and mafia to kill him.

    "It is without doubt that Trump gave an order to kill me, he told the Colombian government, the Colombian mafia to kill me. If something happens to me one day, Donald Trump and Colombian President Ivan Duque will be responsible for everything that happens to me", Maduro said.

    Commenting on the possibility of a new attempt on his life, Maduro reiterated that he was well protected.

    "I am always protected by the Venezuelan people, we have a good intelligence service", Maduro told Sputnik.

    The statement came shortly after Bolton was photographed holding a yellow notepad that read: "5,000 troops to Colombia", prompting widespread speculation that senior US security officials are discussing plans to deploy military forces to the Latin American country bordering Venezuela.

    Bolton Prevented Trump From Holding Dialogue With Caracas

    White House National Security Adviser John Bolton prevented President Donald Trump's administration from establishing a dialogue with the Venezuelan government, Maduro told Sputnik.

    Maduro noted that he had made attempts to establish contacts with the US government for quite a long tome, but that this has not been successful.

    "For all these years, I have been trying on a personal level [to establish dialogue]. I have sent messages that reached Trump publicly, through media, in order to establish a relationship with the US government, in order to have respect and dialogue, despite the political, cultural, and ideological differences between Donald Trump and Nicolas Maduro. And it seemed like the window of opportunity opened for that. But Bolton prevented Donald Trump from initiating a dialogue with Nicolas Maduro. I have the information that he has prohibited this", Maduro said.

    READ MORE: Protected by Armor: US Sanctions Pose no Risk for Russia-Venezuela Ties — Maduro

    In September, Maduro said that a possible meeting with his US counterpart Donald Trump could result in significant changes, stressind that he had enough courage to establish a respectful high-level dialogue with the United States.

    In turn, Trump said he was willing to meet with Maduro, too, if this would help strengthen Venezuela.

    In an interview with Sputnik, Maduro reiterated his readiness to meet with Trump, however, such a meeting, in his opinion, is unlikely to occur, because Trump's team will do everything to prevent such developments.

    "At this point, I think it is difficult. I am ready to talk to Donald Trump personally, in public, in the United States or in Venezuela, wherever he wants, [and discuss] any agenda and any issues he [Trump] would like to talk about", Maduro said.

    "Moreover, I am convinced that if we meet in person, it will be a different story. But I think, they [Trump's advisers] will not give us a chance. Let's be patient. For now, I think it is very difficult", Maduro added.

    US Sanctions on Venezuelan Oil Giant as 'One of Bolton's Most Insane Decisions'

    Venezuela will prove the illegality of the US move to impose sanctions on the country’s state oil company PDVSA and its subsidiary Citgo, and will ultimately emerge victorious, the Venezuelan president told Sputnik in an interview.

    "This US decision absolutely violates the norms of international law, it is an unlawful decision [made] in a bid to expropriate a Venezuelan asset, a Venezuelan company. That's what we're going to demonstrate. I am confident that we will emerge victorious [in this situation], protecting Citgo as the property of the Venezuelan people", Maduro said.

    He described the US move to sanction the company as "one of the most imprudent, most insane decisions made by [US National Security Adviser] John Bolton".

    On Monday, the United States blocked $7 billion in PDVSA's assets under its jurisdiction and imposed a ban on deals with the entity as part of efforts to facilitate a power transfer to "the interim president [Juan Guaido] or a subsequent democratically elected government". US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that by blocking PDVSA's assets, the United States is preserving the assets of this company in the interests of the Venezuelan people.

    When commenting on the US sanctions against the country's oil giant, Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza said that the US move proved that the real purpose of the coup attempt in the Latin American country is oil. In addition, Venezuelan Petroleum Minister Maj. Gen. Manuel Quevedo, who heads PDVSA, stated that the United States has been trying to seize the US-based subsidiary of the energy giant, Citgo, for many years, and called the blocking of PDVSA's assets in the United States "a robbery," that is being accomplished with the help of the "treacherous action of the Venezuelan opposition".

    Talks With Opposition Possible

    When commenting on the possibility of talks with the opposition led by Juan Guaido, Maduro told Sputnik that he was was ready to start negotiations with the opposition aided by the 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.

    Speaking about the possibility of international mediation, Maduro said that "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".

    The president added that he would like such governments and organisations "to support dialogue in Venezuela".

    Caracas is discussing possible international mediation in the Venezuelan political crisis with interested countries, and the issue may be resolved in the coming hours, Maduro added.

    "The governments of Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, Russia, the Vatican, some European governments support [call for] a dialogue. I am sending official letters to them, so that they support a dialogue in Venezuela — where they want, when they want and in whatever form they want", Maduro said.

    The president specified that at this stage he meant "private talks, telephone talks between the presidents, foreign ministers".

    "Our Foreign Minister [Jorge Arreaza] is very active. We hope that there will be good results in the coming hours", Maduro added.

    Over the past several days, Venezuela has been witnessing mass anti-government protests. Last week, Juan Guaido declared himself the country's interim president.

    The United States has urged Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step down and let Guaido assume the presidency with Maduro responding that Washington is attempting to stage a coup d'etat in Venezuela, and announcing a decision to cut off diplomatic ties with the US.

    Bolton said last week that Trump's decision to recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate head of state was a brave move and a clear example of how Washington leads in the world.

    READ MORE: Bolton's '5,000 Troops to Colombia' Note Amid Venezuela Unrest Puzzles Bogota

    Meanwhile, the Venezuelan Supreme Court announced its intention to conduct a full-fledged investigation into Guaido's activities and imposed a travel ban on the Venezuelan opposition leader on Tuesday. The country's Prosecutor General Tarek Saab earlier asked the Supreme Court to launch this probe.

    Bolton in a statement on Tuesday denounced the Venezuelan Attorney General as "illegitimate", warning of "serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido".

    On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the appointment of Elliott Abrams, a close political ally of John Bolton, who served as the special envoy for Venezuela in the Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations. Abrams was reportedly criticised for supporting the Contras in Nicaragua and El Salvador as both were accused of major human rights abuses during military conflicts.

    READ MORE: Venezuela's Maduro Accuses John Bolton of Plotting to Assassinate Him

    Last Monday, mass protests erupted across Venezuela and on 23 January, Guaido declared himself the country's interim president.

    The UK, Germany, France, and Spain declared on Saturday their intention to recognise Juan Guaido as the country's interim president if Caracas does not announce snap presidential elections within eight days.

    In turn, Russia, Cuba, China, Turkey and Iran have given Maduro's government full support, with Maduro himself calling Venezuela "the victim of a US conspiracy", referring to US Vice President Mike Pence promising Guaido "full American support" the day before he declared himself Venezuela's new head of state. Maduro also stressed that Venezuela had held legitimate elections and urged European countries to withdraw their demand.

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    Political Crisis in Venezuela (564)

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    prevention, talks, John Bolton, Donald Trump, Nicolas Maduro, United States, Venezuela
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