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Venezuelan FM Warns Against Foreign Interference
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza announced Thursday that he was forming a coalition of diplomats who believe the U.S. and others are violating the U.N. charter against noninterference in member states' affairs. Arreaza was surrounded by diplomats from 16 other countries — including Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and Cuba — when he met with reporters at the United Nations. These nations continue to back Nicolas Maduro's government in Venezuela while about 50 countries, led by the United States, recognize opposition leader Juan Guiado as president. "We all have the right to live without the threat of use of force and without application of illegal coercive unilateral measures,"  Arreaza said. He said the group of diplomats would "begin a series of actions" within a few days  to "raise awareness around the dangers that our people currently face." But he gave no information about what they planned to do. Sanctions denounced The foreign minister also denounced U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and called the U.S. aid sitting across the border in Colombia a "spectacle." "The U.S. has blocked our economy. The cost of the blockade is over $30 billion, and they are sending this so-called humanitarian aid for $20 million. ...  I'm choking you, I'm killing you, and then I'm giving you a cookie."  He called Guiado's Feb. 23 deadline for delivering that aid "absolutely absurd" because he said Guiado didn't control any police officers. Maduro has refused to allow the food, medicine and other aid into the country, saying Venezuela doesn't need it and calling it a pretense for a U.S. invasion. Meanwhile, billionaire adventurer Richard Branson announced Thursday that he was organizing a benefit concert starring a "wonderful lineup of regional and international artists" to raise money for aid for Venezuela. "We must break the impasse or soon many Venezuelans will be on the verge of starvation or dearth," Branson said. He has scheduled the show for Feb. 22 in Cucta, Colombia, where the U.S. aid is stored in a warehouse.  President Donald Trump has not ruled out military action in Venezuela, but has not said under what conditions he would send in troops. The United States has already imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state-run oil company and visa restrictions on top Venezuelan officials.

Full "Voice of America:News" article




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