US Sen. Rubio warns Venezuela’s Maduro not to act against opposition

US senator Marco Rubio addresses the press on the humanitarian aid shipments sent by the US government for Venezuela that are stockpiled at a collection center in the Colombian border, at the Simon Bolivar international bridge in Cucuta, Colombia on February 17, 2019. (AFP / Luis Robayo)
Updated 18 February 2019
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US Sen. Rubio warns Venezuela’s Maduro not to act against opposition

  • Venezuelan President Maduro is refusing to allow in the food, medicine and other supplies donated by the US
  • Rubio was part of a US delegation visiting the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where humanitarian aid is being stockpiled
CUCUTA, Colombia: US Senator Marco Rubio, visiting the Colombia-Venezuela border on Sunday, warned Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of severe consequences if he takes action against the country’s opposition leader and self-declared president or US citizens.
In a televised interview, Rubio declined to say if he would support US military action against Venezuela, which is mired in a political and economic crisis.
But the Republican senator said he was confident that US President Donald Trump’s administration would not stand by if the Venezuelan government harmed or imprisoned opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president last month.
“There are certain lines and Maduro knows what they are,” Rubio, a senator from Florida seen as an influential voice on Venezuela policy in Washington, told CNN. “The consequences will be severe and they will be swift.”
Rubio also warned Maduro against harming US personnel working in the country and said the United States would also respond if aide workers were targeted.
The senator was part of a US delegation visiting the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where humanitarian aid is being stockpiled for planned delivery to Venezuela.
While Maduro is refusing to allow in the food, medicine and other supplies, Guaido has vowed to move hundreds of tons of the aid into the country on Saturday.
Guaido has said he will announce details on Monday of how he plans to get the aid into the country from Colombia, Brazil and Curacao, despite Maduro’s opposition.
The Feb. 23 deadline sets the stage for a showdown with Maduro, who calls the aid a US-orchestrated show and denies any crisis despite many Venezuelans’ scant access to food and medicine. It is unclear whether the military will allow aid to cross the border.
Most Western countries and many of Venezuela’s neighbors have recognized Guaido as the legitimate head of state after Maduro won a second term in an election last year that critics denounced as a sham. Maduro retains the backing of Russia and China and control of Venezuelan state institutions including the military.
The US delegation included Carlos Trujillo, the US ambassador to the Organization of American States, and Republican US Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.


North Korean missile test violated UN resolution, says Bolton

Updated 7 min 38 sec ago
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North Korean missile test violated UN resolution, says Bolton

  • Trump has left “door open” for North Korea’s Kim
  • Washington has “deep and serious” intelligence on Iran threat

TOKYO: US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Saturday North Korea’s recent missile launches violated a UN Security Council resolution and urged leader Kim Jong Un to return to denuclearization talks.
It was the first time a senior US official has described the tests as a violation of UN resolutions aimed at halting North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and came ahead of a four-day visit to Japan by US President Donald Trump who arrives later in the day.
“The UN resolution prohibits the launch of any ballistic missiles,” Bolton said at a press roundtable. North Korea’s test firings included short range ballistic missiles and so there was “no doubt” it was a violation, he added.
Earlier this month, Kim Jong Un oversaw the first flight of a previously untested weapon — a relatively small, fast missile experts believe will be easier to hide, launch and maneuver in flight.
Bolton said that the United States was still open to talks with Kim’s regime but that it had not changed its position from the one outlined at the last summit between the United States and North Korea in Hanoi.
“Trump has held the door open for Kim, the next step is for Kim to walk through it,” he said.
Bolton also urged Kim to agree to a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which he said could help restart dialogue on North Korea’s weapons programs.
An Abe Kim summit “could be substantive assistance to that,” he said.
Trump, who will play golf with Abe on Sunday before watching Sumo wrestling, is expected to discuss topics ranging from North Korea to China and two-way trade when they sit down for a summit on Monday.
The two leaders will also discuss rising tensions with Iran, Bolton said. Abe is considering a visit to Iran as early as mid-June, public broadcaster NHK said on Friday, the first such trip in four decades.
Washington has said it will stop waivers for countries buying Iranian oil and has designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
The United State is also deploying a carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East in response to what the Trump administration described as troubling “indications and warnings” from Iran.
Bolton, who has spearheaded an increasingly hawkish US policy on Iran, described recent attacks on tankers off the United Arab Emirates and a pipeline pumping station in Saudi Arabia, as well as a rocket attack in Baghdad’s Green Zone in Iraq, as “manifestations of concern.”
The United States has “deep and serious” intelligence on the threat posed by Iran, said Bolton, who declined to provide details.