06:14 GMT +320 September 2019
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    Elliott Abrams talks to reporters after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named the hawkish former Republican official to handle U.S. policy toward Venezuela during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019

    US Special Envoy Abrams Claims Maduro ‘Cannot Trust His Environment’

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    Special Envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams suggested that Venezuela’s elected President Nicolas Maduro cannot trust anyone in his environment, “especially the Cubans and the Russians.”

    Speaking to US-Venezuelan TV channel VPItv, the US special envoy for Venezuela said opposition leader Juan Guaido was engaged in negotiations with senior military commanders on the terms of their turning their back on Maduro, who, according to Abrams, was not aware of the meeting.

    “Maduro cannot trust his environment, including anyone who claims to be loyal to him. He cannot count on that. Especially the Cubans and the Russians,” he said.

    Abrams also echoed Secretary of State and former CIA head Mike Pompeo’s claim that the Venezuelan president was about to flee the country on Tuesday due to the coup planned by Guaido, but was told to stay by Russia.

    The Russian foreign ministry dismissed Pompeo's claim, calling it a 'fake' that was just part of the US information war aimed against the Latin American country. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro himself slammed Pompeo's claim, branding it a lie and manipulation. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, for his part, said that "fake news was a very sad way to acknowledge that a coup supported by the United States failed".

    READ MORE: Lavrov to Pompeo: US Interference in Venezuela's Affairs Breach of Int’l Law

    Elliott Abrams is a Reagan and Bush-era Latin America policy expert brought on board by the Trump White House in January amid the escalating political crisis in Venezuela. Abrams played a major role in the abortive coup attempt against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002, and acted as a lobbyist and unofficial spokesman for US-backed militias in Central America attempting to topple governments in the region in the 1980s.

    Tensions in Venezuela have been high since January, when the country's opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself the interim president and was immediately supported by the United States and its allies. Nicolas Maduro, in turn, was backed by Russia and China, among other states, as the only legitimate president of Venezuela.

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    Tags:
    Venezuelan Crisis, Elliott Abrams, Nicolas Maduro, United States, Venezuela
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