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In an exclusive interview for Axios, Trump said this weekend that he is not opposed to a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro. The comments appeared to be a break from Trump’s usual narrative when it comes to Venezuela.
"I would maybe think about that. ... Maduro would like to meet. And I'm never opposed to meetings — you know, rarely opposed to meetings,” the U.S. president said in response to Jonathan Swan’s question of whether he would meet with the Venezuelan president.
"I always say, you lose very little with meetings. But at this moment, I've turned them down," Trump added.
President Donald Trump clarified his interview comments on Monday morning, saying on Twitter: “My Admin has always stood on the side of FREEDOM and LIBERTY and against the oppressive Maduro regime! I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!”
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Swan went on to quote an unnamed former White House official as telling him that the Maduro administration had approached the White House twice since Trump became president and that Trump had expressed a willingness to meet with Maduro that had caused “a recurring concern” among members of his staff.
Publicly, Trump embraced opposition leader Juan Guaido, former president of the opposition-dominated Venezuelan parliament, who declared himself interim president last year, as he refused to recognise the results of the election that won Maduro a second term.
Since them, the U.S. has been tightening sanctions against the Maduro government, with an almost exclusive focus on its oil industry as the only lifeline to a cash-strapped government. The sanctions have had some of the desired effect: Venezuela’s oil production has slumped to lows not seen in decades, and its exports have shrunk significantly, although the country still exports crude, mainly to China.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.