“We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary”, Trump told reporters at his New Jersey golf club on Friday.
Speaking to Journalists during an impromptu question and answer press conference, President Trump said that the people of Venezuela are suffering, and some are dying.
Also Friday, the White House said Venezuela’s Maduro had requested a phone call with Trump.
President Donald Trump on Friday said he would not rule out a “military option” in Venezuela.
US officials previewing the trip before Trump’s remarks said Venezuela is expected to feature prominently in Pence’s discussions with leaders.
Venezuela’s Defence Minister accused Mr Trump of “an act of madness” calling the US President’s comments about military options “an act of supreme extremism”. “But a military operation, a military option, is certainly something we could pursue”, he responded.
Venezuela has been under constant attack from the Trump administration after the recent election of a National Constitutional Assembly charged with updating the country’s constitution.
“The United States condemns the actions of the Maduro dictatorship”.
The new U.S. sanctions targeted politicians and security figures but stopped short of actions against Venezuela’s vital oil industry.
Maduro said he is ready to receive a commission sent by CARICOM to facilitate dialogue with the opposition, as recently agreed by the Caribbean integration body at a summit in Grenada.
Ben Sasse, a senator from Nebraska and a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, criticized the new position of the President on the Venezuelan crisis. Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro attempted to march to the Supreme Court to protest its decision to gut the opposition-controlled congress of its powers _ a ruling that was quickly rescinded under a barrage of global criticism but that set off weeks of political unrest that have left some three dozens killed.
The Foreign Ministry says in a statement that it condemns “military measures and the use of force”, and that all efforts to resolve Venezuela’s crisis should be peaceful and respect its sovereignty.
“You’ve seen Maduro have some lame attempts to try to do that already”, McMaster said in an interview that aired last Saturday on MSNBC.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza on Saturday said Trump’s comments threatened peace and stability in his country.
Not even the frustration over Trump’s decision to partially roll back Obama’s opening to Cuba – a diplomatic thaw that was applauded across the region’s political spectrum – or his constant talk of building a border wall to keep out immigrants got in the way of presenting a united front toward Maduro.
Venezuela’s newly installed constitutional assembly has chose to push up gubernatorial elections by two months to October, though many in the opposition see it as a false promise unlikely to ever materialize.