Maduro says he ‘repudiates’ Trump statement on possible Venezuela blockade

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday said he rejected US President Donald Trump’s statement about a possible blockade of the South American country, adding that its seas would remain “free and independent.”

Maduro said he had asked Venezuela’s ambassador to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, to denounce the “illegal” threat to the UN Security Council.

“All of Venezuela, in a civic-military union, repudiates and rejects the statements of Donald Trump about a supposed quarantine, of a supposed blockade,” Maduro said in a state television broadcast. “A blockade, why would he announce that? It is clearly illegal.”

The United States has applied sanctions and diplomatic pressure to try to get Maduro, whom it accuses of human rights violations and stealing the Venezuelan election last year, to step down.

On Thursday, when asked by a reporter whether he was considering such a measure given involvement by China and Iran in Venezuela, Trump said: “Yes, I am.” He gave no details.

On Friday, a senior US official said Trump’s word on the issue should be taken “very seriously” but that the administration did not want to give away “the element of surprise.”

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