USA officials meet Venezuela officers to discuss coup bid

USA officials meet Venezuela officers to discuss coup bid

Trump administration officials reportedly met secretly with Venezuelan military officials over the a year ago to discuss plans to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro.

The New York Times, citing unnamed United States officials and a former Venezuelan commander who took part in the talks, said in a story published Saturday that the coup plans stalled.

White House officials said it was important to engage in "dialogue with all Venezuelans who demonstrate a desire for democracy" in order to "bring positive change to a country that has suffered so much under Maduro" The New York Times first reported Saturday.

Later in another Twitter post, Arreaza said the meetings between American officials and coup plotters to promote violent actions to attack Venezuelan democracy and national peace were "unacceptable and unjustifiable".

Standing outside his New Jersey golf club in summer a year ago, President Trump declared that the United States was considering a "military option" to end the chaos in Venezuela - a comment that alarmed America's allies in the region and some members of his administration.

"The United States government hears daily the concerns of Venezuelans from all walks of life - be they members of the ruling party, the security services, elements of civil society or from among the millions of citizens forced by the regime to flee overseas".

"You can not lower your guard for even a second, because we will defend the greatest right our homeland has had in all of its history, which is to live in peace", Maduro said at the time, before continuing to condemn the "supremacist and criminal vision of those who govern the United States".

The Venezuelan military commander is one of many on the United States government's list of sanctioned Venezuelan officials accused of serious crimes, according to the Times.

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Tension has increased with what the Venezuelan government describes as a failed assassination attempt against Maduro last month.

But US officials finally felt the meetings were worth the risk as they watched the crisis in the Latin American country worsen, the Times reported.

The former Venezuelan commander told the Times that the officers never sought U.S. military intervention: "I never agreed, nor did they propose, to do a joint operation", he told the newspaper.

Officials say the White House ultimately declined to back the coup plotters, and the coup never took place.

They reportedly asked the attending US diplomat to supply them with encrypted radios, so as to "to communicate securely".

In August 2017, media reports said Trump asked top advisers about the potential for a United States invasion of Venezuela.

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