Despite enormous historical, ideological and social differences, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has offered to meet US President Donald Trump.
“When the time comes I’m prepared to speak respectfully with President Donald Trump,” Maduro told the state news agency AVN on Monday.
However, President Donald Trump on Monday appeared to retract his comments that he would consider the meeting following an interview with Axios published on Sunday, but he changed track in a tweet on Monday.
Unlike the radical left, I will ALWAYS stand against socialism and with the people of Venezuela. My Admin has always stood on the side of FREEDOM and LIBERTY and against the oppressive Maduro regime! I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2020
“I think that I wasn’t necessarily in favor, but I said — some people that liked it, some people didn’t. 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,” Trump was quoted as telling Axios.
“I would maybe think about that. … Maduro would like to meet. And I’m never opposed to meetings — you know, rarely opposed to meetings. “I always say, you lose very little with meetings. But at this moment, I’ve turned them down,” he said, according to the Axios report.
The comments sent social media in Venezuela ablaze, with many wondering whether Trump was pulling the rug from under the opposition, which has struggled to ignite mass protests and has failed to break military support for Maduro despite an unprecedented economic collapse.
Washington has been one of the chief allies to Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido but that support has waned as the National Assembly president’s challenge to Maduro’s authority has lost impetus.
Guaido caused a stir 18 months ago declaring himself acting president after the opposition-controlled parliament decreed Maduro a usurper over his 2018 re-election in a poll widely viewed as rigged.
The US was one of the first of more than 50 countries to recognise his claims and the Trump administration ramped up sanctions on Maduro and his inner circle in an effort to starve him of revenue and force his resignation.