Trump holds talks with Peru leader on tackling 'crisis' in Venezuela

Trump holds talks with Peru leader on tackling 'crisis' in Venezuela
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President Trump spoke on the phone with the Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski on Saturday about addressing the "deteriorating political and economic crisis" in Venezuela, the White House said.

Trump stressed that the U.S. will work alongside Peru in an effort to "improve democratic institutions and help the people of Venezuela."

According to the White House, "President Kuczynski expressed his gratitude for President Trump's prompt humanitarian assistance in response to the devastating floods in Peru."

Trump's phone call with the Peruvian leader, who has been an outspoken critic of Venezuela's socialist government, comes amid a rapid political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

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Venezuela, once Latin America's wealthiest country, is now expected to reach an estimated 720 percent inflation rate. In the last four years, its economy has also shrunk by 27 percent, with food imports decreasing by 70 percent, according to investment bank Torino Capital.

Many experts attribute Venezuela's rapid decline to authoritarian policies of the government, including nationalization of private farms, price controls and currency regulation, The Wall Street Journal notes.

The Trump administration has also criticized the government of Venezuela for straying from its constitution, keeping political prisoners and not holding free and fair elections.

President Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster met with the president of Venezuela's National Assembly on Friday afternoon and communicated the U.S. position to the Venezuelan official, the White House said.

"They discussed the ongoing crisis in Venezuela and the need for the government to adhere to the Venezuelan Constitution, release political prisoners, respect the National Assembly, and hold free and democratic elections," the White House said in a statement.

"They agreed that there is a strong need to bring the crisis to a quick and peaceful conclusion."