US vice president Pence vows America will not allow ‘collapse of Venezuela’

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks to a large crowd after meeting with members of the Venezuelan exile community, recent Venezuelan migrants, other local leaders and officials about the continuing devastation and unrest in Venezuela at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Doral, Florida, on Wednesday. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 August 2017
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US vice president Pence vows America will not allow ‘collapse of Venezuela’

MIAMI: US Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday vowed the US would not allow “the collapse of Venezuela,” saying such an event would “endanger” countries in the wider region.
“The collapse of Venezuela will endanger all who call the Western Hemisphere home,” Pence said in remarks delivered before some 600 people at a Catholic church in Doral, the heart of Miami’s Venezuelan community.
“We cannot and will not let that happen,” he said, adding that “working with our allies in the Latin American region, the US will confront and overcome all who dare to threaten our wellbeing.”
He emphasized that Venezuela’s “collapse” would “drive more illegal drug trafficking with its murderous consequences” — a notion his boss President Donald Trump has also pushed.
The vice president gave his speech just back from his tour last week of Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama. Venezuela was among the key issues discussed.
The country has spiraled into political and economic chaos, threatening regional stability. Clashes between protesters and police this year have left 125 people dead, according to prosecutors.
In Miami Pence did not raise the specter of military action, which Trump has evoked.
Pence insisted that the US would not make decisions unilaterally: “America first does not mean America alone.”
US Senator Marco Rubio and Florida Governor Rick Scott also spoke, reiterating their pledge to ban companies in the southeastern state from doing business with Venezuelan firms.
According to 2015 census data, some 273,000 Venezuelans live in the United States — nearly half of them in Florida, and most in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.


Putin says will step down as president after term expires in 2024

Updated 59 min 19 sec ago
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Putin says will step down as president after term expires in 2024

MOSCOW: Vladimir Putin said on Friday he would respect the Russian constitution which bans anyone from serving two consecutive presidential terms, meaning he will step down from his post in 2024 when his current term expires.
His remarks, made to reporters at an economic forum in St. Petersburg and broadcast on state TV, are not a surprise and do not necessarily mean he will relinquish power in six years.
Putin has stepped down as president once before, in 2008, after serving two back-to-back terms only to return in 2012 after doing a stint as prime minister, a maneuver he would be legally entitled to carry out again.
“I have always strictly abided by and abide by the constitution of the Russian Federation,” Putin said, when asked if and when he would be leaving office.
“In the constitution it’s clearly written that nobody can serve more than two terms in a row ... I intend to abide by this rule.”
Putin easily won re-election in March, extending his tenure by six years to 24 — which would make him Moscow’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.