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Pompeo urges Moscow in phone call to cease ‘unconstructive behavior’ in Venezuela

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Russia to “cease its unconstructive behavior” by supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a phone call with his Russian counterpart, the State Department said on Monday.

Spokesman Robert Palladino said Pompeo had spoken to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about Venezuela on Monday.

“The secretary told Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that the United States and regional countries will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela,” Palladino said in a statement.

The call appears to have been prompted by reports of the arrival on Sunday in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, of two Russian air force planes carrying a Russian defense official and nearly 100 troops, amid strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.

The State Department statement did not refer to the arrival of the Russian passenger jet and a military cargo plane, although it condemned Russian military support for the “illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro.” 

Russia has warned the United States and neighbors against a military intervention in Venezuela.

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During the call with Lavrov, Pompeo urged Moscow to join the United States and regional countries in backing opposition leader Juan Guaido.

The Trump administration has imposed crippling sanctions on the OPEC nation’s oil industry. On Friday it sanctioned its development bank, Bandes, in efforts to choke off financial flows to Maduro’s government and called on Venezuelan military leaders to abandon him.

Maduro has denounced the sanctions as U.S. intervention and has won diplomatic backing from Russia, China and Cuba.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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‘This American dream’: Pain overwhelms family of drowned migrants

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"They had this American dream," sobbed Rosa Ramirez after images of her drowned son and granddaughter, discovered face-down on the banks of the Rio Grande between Mexico and the United States, shocked the world on Wednesday.

The poignant pictures of Oscar Alberto Martinez and his toddler daughter Valeria -- not yet two years old -- has sparked outrage back home in El Salvador, where around 200 migrants like them leave for the United States daily, preparing to take similar risks.

"The pain has been immense. I still can't believe that my boy and my little granddaughter are dead, they only wanted to get to the United States.... they had this American dream -- to achieve a better life," Oscar's mother told AFP.

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Venezuela government says thwarted attempted ‘coup’

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Venezuela's socialist government said Wednesday it had derailed an attempted coup, claiming the United States, Colombia and Chile colluded in a military plot to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro and install a general and former defense minister in his place.

Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the plan involved active and retired army officers and was to have been executed between Sunday and Monday this past weekend.

"We were in all the meetings to plan the coup d'Etat. We were in all the conferences," Rodriguez said, suggesting that government informers had infiltrated the alleged plotters during planning meetings.

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Democrats believe Mueller testimony could be tipping point for impeachment: CNN

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On Wednesday, CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju reported that some House Democrats view special counsel Robert Mueller's upcoming public testimony to the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees in July as a potential tipping point that could sway both Democratic leaders and the American people in favor of opening an impeachment probe.

"Democrats who support opening up an impeachment inquiry believe this could bolster the calls to open up formal proceedings, perhaps shift public opinion, perhaps encourage the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to move off of her opposition to opening up an impeachment probe because of what Bob Mueller will say," said Raju.

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