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article imageCaracas denounces Trump's crisis talks as 'rival dialogue'

By AFP     Sep 15, 2017 in World

Caracas on Friday denounced President Donald Trump's plans to meet with Latin American leaders concerning Venezuela's ongoing crisis, branding the talks as "rival dialogue."

Earlier in the day Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster had announced plans for a "working dinner" on Monday that will convene several Latin American leaders in New York, as the UN General Assembly gets underway.

During the dinner Trump expects to "discuss the crisis in Venezuela, as well as the strong economic ties and extraordinary success of like-minded Latin American nations in recent decades," McMaster told journalists, without elaborating on which leaders the talks will include.

But having just begun exploratory talks with opposition delegates this week, Caracas met the news with scorn.

"You have nothing to evaluate President Trump... evaluate your internal problems," Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told journalists, lambasting the planned meeting as "rival dialogue."

Officials from both the Venezuelan government and the opposition began exploratory talks Wednesday, mediated by Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina and Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the former Spanish prime minister.

The opposing sides agreed Thursday to a commission of "friendly countries" -- Mexico, Chile, Bolivia and Nicaragua -- tasked with assisting negotiations to emerge from the crisis that had fueled months of deadly protests.

Arreaza also appeared to respond to Trump's threat last month of a "military option" in Venezuela.

"Anyone who dares to attack Venezuela will suffer the consequences," he said.

Though the White House did not say who would attend Monday's talks, Arreaza mentioned Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is among those invited.

McMaster also ruled out the possibility that Trump could hold direct talks with Venezuelan representatives at the General Assembly.

President Nicolas Maduro will not attend the gathering of world leaders, instead sending his foreign minister to represent the embattled Latin American country.

Washington has already slapped sanctions on crisis-stricken Venezuela -- including on Maduro himself -- to "deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule."

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