Pence Latin America tour clouded by Trump threat against Venezuela

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"Venezuela categorically rejects the unfriendly and warmongering declarations of Trump, who has threatened us with a military intervention, in violation of United Nations principles and global law", said the foreign minister.

Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Latin America comes amid unrest in Venezuela and concern by its neighbors about a possible American military role.

Immediately after landing in Cartagena, Pence met privately with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the oceanfront presidential compound here, with Pence telling Santos that he came with warm greetings from Trump.

Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), has been secretly negotiating since at least early this year with Russia's biggest state-owned oil company, Rosneft - offering ownership interests in up to nine of Venezuela's most productive petroleum projects, according to a top Venezuelan government official and two industry sources familiar with the talks. "It is not the first time that Trump has acted like this towards Venezuela, which has been besieged for a long time", said Cristobal Alva, a Venezuelan poet from Guatire in the northern state of Miranda.

Pence and his wife, Karen, were greeted by a military honor guard on the tarmac at Rafael Nunez International Airport, where they were greeted by the Colombian minister of foreign affairs, the US ambassador to Colombia and the Colombian ambassador to the USA, among other officials. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering, and they are dying.

She highlighted the "moral and military...preparation" of the Venezuelan people and added that "diplomacy" was the right way to resolve conflicts.

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Colombia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it rejected the use of "military measures and the use of force" when dealing with Venezuela.

The Trump administration must also work to convince the European Union to sanction significantly more members of the Maduro government, many of whom have family members living overseas in luxury after stealing hundreds of billions of dollars from the Venezuelan treasury, because "broader sanctions could help splinter Maduro's support and encourage a transition away from dictatorship". McMaster told ABC's "This Week".

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino has described United States President Donald Trump's warning of a possible military action as a "crazy act" by an "extremist elite".

Trump's saber-rattling has instead boosted Maduro's claim that American aggression is behind all of Venezuela's problems and that opposition leaders are puppets of the US and has even made some of the dictator's strongest detractors criticize Trump. He will tour the newly expanded Panama Canal.

In Colombia, Pence is also expected to highlight trade, business investment and other ties between the nations, including US support for the country's efforts to implement its peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

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