President Donald Trump will agree to speak to Venezuela’s leader “as soon as democracy is restored in that country,” the White House said Friday night.
President Nicolas Maduro has been under intense criticism around the world for installing a new all-powerful assembly that supersedes the Venezuelan congress and is packed with Maduro loyalists.
The White House said Maduro requested on Friday a phone call with Trump, whose administration has slapped sanctions on Maduro himself and some of his allies, and branded him a dictator over his attempts to crush his country’s opposition.
Earlier Friday Trump even said he was considering military options as a response to the escalating political and economic crisis in Venezuela — an oil-rich country reduced to widespread poverty and shortages of food, medicine and other basics.
The White House said that since he took office Trump has been pressing Maduro to respect his country’s constitution, hold free and fair elections, release political prisoners and halt human rights violations and oppression.
“The Maduro regime has refused to heed this call, which has been echoed around the region and the world. Instead Maduro has chosen the path of dictatorship,” the White House said.
“The United States stands with the people of Venezuela in the face of their continued repression by the Maduro regime. President Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democracy is restored in that country,” it added.