21:57 GMT +306 December 2019
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    In this handout photo released by the Miraflores Presidential Press Office, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro flashes a V for Victory hand gesture after arriving at the Fort Tiuna military base in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.

    Drills at Venezuelan-Colombian Border Aim to Protect Caracas, Not a Threat - Maduro

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    BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that Venezuela's large-scale military drills near the Colombian border are not aimed at threatening anyone, but were organized to protect Venezuelan territory.

    "We do not threaten anyone. The Venezuelan army has never gone beyond the country's borders to threaten or invade the territory of other nation, and this will never happen. The main idea of our armed forces is a defense strategy [...] But for the case, if we need to protect [Venezuelan citizens] by arms, Venezuela has the prepared and well-equipped armed forces to protect the homeland", Maduro stated.

    Last week, the Venezuelan leader announced that large-scale military exercises would be held near the Colombian border on 10-28 September.

    According to Maduro, Venezuela was deploying air defence systems at its border with Colombia for the period of holding the drills.

    Relations between Caracas and Bogota worsened amid a political crisis that erupted in Venezuela. In January, the opposition tried to overthrow Maduro in a bid to install its leader Juan Guaido. The attempt failed but unrest continued with Maduro accusing Bogota of being behind the plot to overthrow and assassinate him.

    Colombia has denied the claims. However, Bogota, alongside some other countries, endorsed Guaido as an interim president. At the same time, China and Russia were among the states that supported constitutionally-elected Maduro.

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