Washington, Feb 2 (IANS) US military intervention in Venezuela was not imminent but all options remained on the table, National Security Adviser John Bolton has said.
In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Friday, Bolton replied “no” when asked whether a military intervention by the US, Brazil or Colombia, or a combined force, was imminent.
“The President (Donald Trump) said all options are on the table. But our objective is a peaceful transfer of power,” The Hill magazine quoted Bolton as saying.
The Trump administration has launched a major effort to push incumbent Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro out of power, including backing National Assembly leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim President.
But Trump has repeatedly floated the possibility of a US military intervention to push out Maduro, even though foreign policy experts believe such a strike is unlikely.
“We’ve been imposing economic sanctions, increasing political pressure from around the world,” he said.
“The overwhelming majority of the people of the country want the Maduro regime thrown out. That’s what we hope and expect to do.”
The US has slapped new sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, a significant source of wealth for the Maduro government, and warned other countries against accepting shipments of gold or other national assets from the socialist leader.
Media reports have indicated that Venezuela is prepared to ship hundreds of millions of dollars in gold bullion to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“Reports show he is flying out Venezuelan assets by the plane full. Is he stealing resources from the people to pay for Russian intervention?” Bolton tweeted earlier on Friday.
Maduro won a second term in last May’s presidential election by a wide margin, but much of the opposition boycotted the process and rejected the result as illegitimate, a stance shared by the US and numerous nations in Latin America and Europe, reports Efe news.
The political crisis intensified on January 23 when Guaido proclaimed himself the country’s legitimate leader.
Washington and its Western allies formally recognised Guaido as interim head of state last week and the European Parliament followed suit on Thursday.
Several individual European governments, including Spain, Germany and the UK, have made clear their intention to recognise Guaido.
Among Latin American nations, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua remain solidly behind Maduro, while Mexico and Uruguay are calling for mediation.
Uruguay and Bolivia have agreed to participate in the European Union sponsored contact group.