CARACAS: A day after trading barbs with US President Donald Trump, Venezuela leader Nicolas Maduro said he was heading to New York to attend the UN General Assembly, according to state television.
Maduro had previously declined to comment on whether he would attend the yearly assembly for the first time since 2015 but was irked on Tuesday by the US announcing sanctions against his wife Cilia.
“I’m coming full of emotion, passion, truths, so that everyone knows that Venezuela is on its feet,” he said as he boarded a plane with his wife in Caracas before heading for New York.
The United States cranked up the pressure on Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro by imposing sanctions on his wife and more of his inner circle and issuing harsh warnings about his vulnerability to an overthrow.
President Donald Trump said the “repressive regime” in Caracas that is responsible for a “human tragedy” in the once oil-rich nation “could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that.”
But he declined to talk about possible US military options.
“I don’t like to talk about military.... I’m not going to tell,” Trump said during a meeting with the president of Venezuela’s neighbor Colombia, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
The issue is even more sensitive given a New York Times report this month saying Trump administration officials had met three times with Venezuelan military officers to discuss plans to oust Maduro but the plans stalled.
“Currently we are witnessing the human tragedy” in Venezuela, Trump told world leaders gathered at the United Nations. “More than two million people have fled the anguish inflicted by the socialist Maduro regime and its Cuban sponsors.”