US met Venezuelan officers over possible coup to oust Nicolas Maduro

New York Times report follows Venezuelan leader escaping unharmed from drone attack

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 4, 2018, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech during a ceremony to celebrate the 81st anniversary of the National Guard in Caracas. - Officials from US President Donald Trump's administration met secretly with Venezuelan military officers to discuss plans to oust President Nicolas Maduro but eventually decided not to help, The New York Times reported on September 8, 2018. (Photo by Juan BARRETO / AFP)
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The US held at least three meetings with Venezuelan military officers before deciding not to help them overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, the New York Times reported on Saturday, citing unidentified American officials and a former Venezuelan commander who participated in the talks.

In the end, no joint operation was ever proposed between US and coup plotters, a former Venezuelan commander told the paper.

In July, a personal familiar with the matter said President Trump was considering an array of options, including military action, to bring an end to the long-running crisis in Venezuela. The Associated Press also reported in July that Mr Trump had pressed aides on the possibility of invading Venezuela during a meeting in the Oval Office in August 2017.

Mr Maduro in August escaped unharmed in an attack by explosive-laden drones that wounded officers and sent soldiers scurrying during a military parade in Caracas. The country’s security forces subsequently made a wave of arrests.

Bloomberg News reported after the incident that in April, a number of Venezuelan military dissidents plotted in neighbouring Colombia to overthrow Mr Maduro, and met there with a second group, comprised mostly of civilians, who wanted to assassinate him.

A spokesman for the National Security Council said on Saturday that "US policy preference for a peaceful, orderly return to democracy in Venezuela remains unchanged".

"A lasting solution to Venezuela's worsening crisis can only arise following restoration of governance by democratic practices, the rule of law, and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms," the NSC's Garrett Marquis said in an emailed statement.


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