During a Friday press conference, President Trump expressed growing concern over the escalating humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, where President Maduro's government continues to restrict the rights and liberties of opposition forces. As a result, Trump said he's keeping all options on the table, including military intervention.
"We have many options for Venezuela," the 45th commander-in-chief said as he stood alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and national security adviser H.R. McMaster."This is our neighbor. We're all over the world. You know, we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering. And they're dying."
Trump's reaffirming of global democracy in the South American country surfaced in the wake of recent economic sanctions issued by his administration. The sanctions targeted Maduro, his vice president and others who may be involved in the ongoing crackdown.
Following Trump's comments, Venezuela's defense minister called his talk of military intervention an act of "craziness" and "supreme extremism."
But Trump's language appeared to have grabbed the attention of Maduro, who requested a call with the president. The White House, however, said it rejected the call.
"Since the start of this Administration, President Trump has asked that Maduro respect Venezuela’s constitution, hold free and fair elections, release political prisoners, cease all human rights violations, and stop oppressing Venezuela’s great people," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. The Maduro regime has refused to heed this call, which has been echoed around the region and the world. Instead Maduro has chosen the path of dictatorship."
"The United States stands with the people of Venezuela in the face of their continued oppression by the Maduro regime," she added. "President Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democracy is restored in that country."
For more Circa related coverage, check out: This violinist has became an anti-government symbol in Venezuela.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.