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Venezuela's Maduro making surprise UN trip as pressure grows

30 September 2018

Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro departed for the United States Wednesday; hoping to secure global aid for his nation's crumbling economy during the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

On the same day and at a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, US President Donald Trump called on UN members to support a "restoration of democracy" in Venezuela.

"We exhort the Venezuelan government to take urgent actions to provide the needed identification and travel documents to its citizens such as ID cards, passports and birth certificates", it said. Maduro, however, has denied the extent of the humanitarian crisis, while insisting his country's woes are the product of US interference and vengeful, selfish oligarchs.

After the US Treasury Department on Tuesday slapped sanctions on his wife, Cilia Adela Flores de Maduro, the Venezuelan leader praised her as a "fierce woman". "The failure of leadership in Venezuela is of concern not just to us but to leaders in the region".

The Trump administration has ratcheted up sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government that has stifled political opponents and presided over a dramatic economic collapse. He called for the United States to offer the expertise of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and top scientists to determine who was behind the attack.

He nevertheless said he hoped to meet with Trump face to face.

"I'm willing to meet with anybody anytime I can (to) save lives, help people", Trump said as he was pummeled by reporters' questions about whether the USA would ever intervene military to remove Maduro.

Trump sparks unintentional laughter from members of the UN General Assembly
Leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales bluntly declared that "the United States does not care about human rights or justice". Trump also commended Kim Jong Un for reaffirming his commitment to denuclearization, prosperity and peace for the peninsula.

Maduro has been seeking a meeting with Trump for nearly two years and has watched with frustration as the USA leader has talked with American adversaries like North Korea's Kim Jong-un and Russia's Vladimir Putin while shunning Venezuelan entreaties. Rather, he could be laying the groundwork for even harsher USA sanctions-such as a ban on US oil exports to Venezuela or preventing the USA purchase of Venezuelan crude, either of which would be a body blow to Caracas. But, given the country's divided opposition and a mostly loyal military, even that ramped-up USA pressure is unlikely to be enough to end the rule of President Nicolás Maduro anytime soon. Would Maduro meet with President Trump, and somehow defuse rising tensions with the United States in a manner similar to North Korea's Kim Jung Un?

Treasury said the sanctions could be lifted if the officials "take concrete and meaningful actions to restore democratic order, refuse to take part in human rights abuses, speak out against abuses committed by the government, and combat corruption in Venezuela".

Venezuela, along with Iran, has become one of the Trump's administration biggest targets.

At a news conference, Trudeau steered clear of direct criticism of Trump, and said Canada and the US share concern about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

"What I want to say is that Venezuela is now stronger than ever", he said.

Maduro slammed the sanctions, describing them as a badge of honor for Venezuelan revolutionaries.

"If he (Maduro) is here and he wants to meet - it was not on my mind, it was not on my plate, but if I can help people, that's what I'm here for", he added.

Venezuela's Maduro making surprise UN trip as pressure grows