12:34 GMT21 February 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - White House National Security Adviser John Bolton has cancelled his trip to South Korea to focus on the situation in Venezuela, a National Security Council Spokesperson said in a statement.

    "Ambassador Bolton has cancelled his travel to the Republic of Korea to focus on events in Venezuela," the National Security Council spokesperson told CNN on Friday.

    Tensions have escalated ahead of Saturday’s due date set by Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido for US aid to be forced into the country via Columbia without the host government’s consent. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has maintained that the US assistance is part of Washington’s plan to overthrow the government.

    Bolton was set to go to South Korea ahead of the second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un which is set for February 27-28 in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

    On Friday, local media reported that clashes between Venezuelan security forces and indigenous people living in the southeastern state of Bolivar resulted in two people killed, while 22 others have been injured.

    Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza during a press conference disputed reports about indigenous fatalities at the border and said Maduro’s government would never order troops to fire on civilians.

    The United States delivered enough food to Columbia that could feed some 2,000 Venezuelans for a period of one month, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said in a press release.

    READ MORE: US Air Force Plane With Aid for Venezuela Arrives in Colombia's Cucuta

    Earlier on Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the United States is deploying special forces and weapons closer to the Venezuelan border. A State Department spokesperson told Sputnik the allegations are "preposterous."

    UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric in a press briefing on Friday said that the Secretary-General is concerned about the politicization of the delivery of humanitarian aid in Venezuela and called for avoiding violence.

    Maduro said that Venezuela has agreed to accept an EU humanitarian aid offer worth $2.3 billion that will be delivered via the UN system.

    The International Center of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Columbia last week said it would not help distribute the goods because it does not consider the US assistance to be true humanitarian aid.

    Guaido escalated Venezuela’s political crisis last month by declaring himself interim president, with US support, which prompted Maduro to accuse Washington of trying to orchestrate a coup. Russia, China, Mexico, among other nations, have reaffirmed their support for Maduro as the country’s only legitimate head of state. In addition, the United Nations also still recognizes Maduro as Venezuela’s president.


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