Trump makes unlikely overture to Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and flip-flops on backing opposition leader

Tribune Content Agency

President Donald Trump says he’s willing to meet with Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, a strongman who the U.S. accuses of being a brutal drug-trafficking dictator.

After once mulling military action to oust Maduro, the commander-in-chief told Axios that he would be open to meeting Maduro to hash out their differences face to face.

“I would maybe think about that,” he said in a White House interview. “As I always say, you lose very little with meetings. But at this moment, I’ve turned them down.”

Trump appeared to sour on opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom the U.S. recognizes as the legitimate president of Venezuela and the winner of a disputed election against Maduro.

In a word-salad answer, Trump appeared to say he wasn’t convinced that it was that important to continue to support Guaidó.

“Guaidó was elected. I think that I wasn’t necessarily in favor, but I said — some people that liked it, some people didn’t,” Trump said. “I was OK with it. I don’t think it was — you know, I don’t think it was very meaningful one way or the other.”

Guaidó appeared as a guest of honor at Trump’s State of the Union speech in February, where he received rare bipartisan acclaim.

If Trump follows through and pushes for a meeting with Maduro, it would completely scramble U.S. policy to Venezuela.

Like his unlikely detente with North Korea, Trump would be jettisoning the hardline that Republicans have toed for years on Venezuela.

It’s unclear what Trump might hope to gain from a meeting or better ties with Maduro.


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