Sat, Aug 12, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Maduro asks for Trump meeting

ISOLATED:In addition to economic sanctions applied by Washington, Credit Suisse announced a ban on trading of Venezuelan bonds due to a fluctuating political climate


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro holds up a miniature copy of the constitution as he addresses a new, more powerful constitutional assembly in Caracas on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he wants a meeting with US President Donald Trump, the same man he ridicules as a crass imperial magnate, as Washington weighs slapping crippling economic sanctions on his socialist administration.

In a lengthy address on Thursday to members of a new, all-powerful constitutional assembly, Maduro instructed Venezuela’s foreign minister to approach the US about arranging a telephone conversation or meeting with Trump at next month’s UN General Assembly.

“Mr Donald Trump, here is my hand,” the socialist president said, adding that he wants as strong a relationship with the US as he has with Russia.

The remarks came a day after the Trump administration slapped sanctions on eight close allies, accusing them of violating human rights and democratic norms, and debated whether to pile on additional economic sanctions to further isolate the government.

On Thursday, Trump said he discussed Venezuela, as well as with North Korea and Afghanistan, in a security briefing with top national security aides and US Vice President Mike Pence, who travels to neighboring Colombia tomorrow in a trip in which discussions on how to pressure Maduro is expected to feature prominently.

“We had some very good meetings, some very good ideas, very good thoughts, and a lot of decisions were made,” Trump said following the briefing, without providing any details.

Maduro’s apparent olive branch was undermined in the same speech by his own angry rant against Trump, who he accused of backing a failed attack on a military base a week ago.

The Trump administration in turn has called Maduro a “dictator” and issued sanctions against him and more than two dozen other former and current officials.

Even as the US holds back from applying economic sanctions, the Maduro government is finding itself increasingly isolated from financial markets.

On Thursday, financial services firm Credit Suisse banned trading in Venezuelan bonds over what it said were “recent developments and the political climate” in the country, according to an internal memo.

Any future transactions involving Venezuelan officials or assets would have to go through additional screening, showed the memo, whose authenticity was confirmed by the bank.

Venezuela is in the midst of a severe economic downturn caused by low oil prices and government policies that have scared away private investment. The country’s bonds are one of the few ways the government is able to raise money to support its collapsing economy.

However, as the country’s political crisis has worsened, the bonds issued by the government, as well as those of state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, have become a point of contention and concern for investors who increasingly worry they are supporting an oppressive regime, as well as a country that is at great risk of defaulting on its debts.

Goldman Sachs came under political pressure earlier this year for buying a reported US$2.8 billion in Venezuelan bonds on the open market at a significant discount.

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