Maduro says his government held secret meetings with US officials: AP

Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro in a new interview says that his government has held private meetings with the Trump administration even as the White House has publicly thrown its support behind Juan Guaidó, the country’s self-declared interim president.

Maduro told The Associated Press on Friday that his officials invited Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special envoy to Venezuela, to meet with Maduro personally during two recent meetings in New York.

{mosads}“If he wants to meet, just tell me when, where and how and I’ll be there,” he told the AP, while not giving further details about the New York meetings.

U.S. officials reportedly did not deny meetings with Venezuelan officials loyal to Maduro, while telling the AP that the Trump administration was willing to talk with “former Venezuela officials, including Maduro himself, to discuss their exit plans.”

News of the meetings comes despite Maduro’s decision in 2013 to cut off economic and diplomatic relations with the U.S., while the U.S. has allowed Guaidó, the leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, to access funds stored in U.S. accounts by Maduro’s government.

Maduro added in the interview that he was not “afraid” for his future in Venezuela, but said that he was worried about the country’s overall future.

“I’m not afraid,” he told the AP, while reportedly mentioning a drone attack that targeted him during a military parade in the country last year. “I’m only worried about the destiny of the fatherland and of our people, our boys and girls … this is what gives me energy.”

The Trump administration has recognized Guaidó as the country’s interim president despite Maduro’s refusal to leave office.

Trump himself spoke with Guaidó in late January “to congratulate him on his historic assumption of the presidency and to reinforce President Trump’s strong support for Venezuela’s fight to regain its democracy,” the White House said at the time.

Tags Donald Trump Elections Venezuela

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