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Venezuelans should determine their future, Putin tells Trump

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has told US President Donald Trump that attempts to change the government in Caracas by force undermines prospects for a political settlement of the crisis.
During a telephone conversation with President Trump, initiated by the White House, on Friday, President Putin said only the Venezuelans themselves have the right to determine the future of their country, “whereas outside interference in the country’s internal affairs and attempts to change the government in Caracas by force undermine prospects for a political settlement of the crisis.”
On Tuesday, US-backed and self-proclaimed “interim president” of Venezuela Juan Guaido called on the military to overthrow the legitimate government of President Maduro.
Guaido urged Venezuelans to take to the streets as he announced that “the final phase of the operation to topple President Nicolas Maduro is underway.”
Speaking through a loudspeaker to his cheering supporters, Guaido said, “Operation Freedom has begun!”
“We’re going to stand here together asking and demanding the military to join,” added Guaido.
“For many years, we have talked to the armed forces, and today it’s clear to us that the armed forces are with the Venezuelan people, who are not with a dictator.”
But President Maduro via Twitter declared, “Nerves of Steel! I have spoken with the commanders of all the country’s regions and zones of comprehensive military defence, who have expressed their total loyalty to the people, to the Constitution and to the homeland. I call for maximum popular mobilisation to ensure the victory of peace. We Will win!”
President Donald Trump addressed the conflict in Venezuela on Wednesday evening during an appearance on Fox Business, calling it a “terrible situation” and an “incredible mess” that is likely to be “very bad” going forward.
“We’re doing everything we can do short of the ultimate — and there are people that would like to have us do the ultimate,” he told host Trish Regan via phone, adding that “we have a lot of options open.”
Tensions are rising between the US and Russia over the crisis.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US may take military action to resolve the crisis, and accused Russia and Cuba of destabilising the country through their support for President Maduro.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told Pompeo that America’s influence over Venezuela is destructive and a violation of international law
According to the Kremlin, Presidents Putin and Trump discussed the current state and prospects of bilateral relations with a focus on economic cooperation.
The duo spoke in favour of developing mutually beneficial trade and investment relations.
The leaders affirmed their shared commitment to step up dialogue in various areas, including on issues of strategic stability.
President Putin informed his counterpart of the key results of his April 25 meeting in Vladivostok with Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK [North Korea] Kim Jong-un, stressing that Pyongyang’s good-faith fulfilment of its commitments should be accompanied by reciprocal steps to ease the sanctions pressure on North Korea. Both parties noted the importance of consistent progress towards denuclearisation and achieving long-term normalisation on the Korean Peninsula.
The Kremlin said the situation in Ukraine was touched on in the context of the recent presidential election which saw comedian Volodymyr Zelensky emerge winner.

President Putin emphasised that the new leadership in Kiev should take real steps to implement the Minsk Agreements, “which are critical to resolving the internal Ukrainian conflict.”
The leaders agreed to maintain contacts at various levels while expressing “satisfaction with the business-like and constructive nature of the conversation.”

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