Sullivan: Sanctions relief in Venezuela must be ‘tied to concrete steps’
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that the lifting of any U.S. sanctions on Venezuela must be “tied to concrete steps.”
A U.S. delegation of senior administration officials went to Venezuela earlier this month as part of a planned meeting, though observers noted the stakes had changed with the possibility of suspended oil imports from Russia. The U.S. cut diplomatic ties with the oil-rich country in 2019 after the U.S. recognized Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela.
Soon after the meeting, two U.S. prisoners that were detained in Venezuela were released. Speaking to NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, Sullivan noted that there are more “American citizens still in Venezuela, heartbreakingly, who are working around the clock to try to get out.”
“And what I will tell you is this, Chuck. Any sanctions relief that we provide, as was true in the last administration and is true in this administration, has to be tied to concrete steps that Maduro and the people around him take.”
The U.S. has multiple sanctions in place against Venezuela, with many having to do with President Nicolás Maduro’s alleged human rights violations.
An unnamed senior Biden administration official said last week that “at no point was there an offer of oil in exchange for the detention of Americans.” They further stated that there were no talks between the U.S. and Maduro’s regime regarding oil.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have spoken out against the possibility of sourcing oil from Venezuela.
Republican Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw called reports that the Biden administration was asking countries like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia to increase their oil output “strange,” and called for the U.S. to increase its own oil production.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee., said last week that he feared purchasing Venezuelan oil would perpetuate “a humanitarian crisis that has destabilized Latin America and the Caribbean for an entire generation.”
“Nicolás Maduro is a cancer to our hemisphere and we should not breathe new life into his reign of torture and murder. As such, I would strongly oppose any action that fills the pockets of regime oligarchs with oil profits while Maduro continues to deprive Venezuelans of basic human rights, freedoms, and even food,” said Menendez.
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