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Maduro repudiates Trump's quarantine threat, says Venezuela ready for battle

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (L) and the president of the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello are pictured during the closing ceremony of the Sao Paulo Forum at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas on July 28, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has lashed out at his American counterpart, Donald Trump, for threatening to impose a blockade or a quarantine on the South American country.

Speaking during a live television interview, Maduro said such measures were "illegal" and all Venezuelans were ready to respond in kind.

“All of Venezuela, in a civic-military union, repudiates and rejects the statements of Donald Trump about a supposed quarantine, of a supposed blockade,” Maduro said in a state television broadcast on Friday.

 “A blockade, why would he announce that?” he asked. “It is clearly illegal.”

 “We are all prepared for battle if anyone tries to impose a quarantine or blockade on Venezuela,” said Maduro, adding that the threat only shows the “desperation and irritation” of the Trump administration.

Asked by a reporter on Thursday whether he was considering a blockade or a quarantine, Trump said: “Yes, I am.”

Washington has already imposed several rounds of sanctions against the oil-rich country to oust Maduro and replace him with opposition figure Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president earlier this year.

The Trump administration has even confiscated Venezuela’s state oil assets based in the US to channel them to Guaido.

In its latest move against Caracas, the US on Friday slapped sanctions on two security officials for alleged human rights violations.

Maduro denounced the new measures, describing them as “Illegal, spurious decisions”.

“Stupid decisions about supposed sanctions,” he said. “Every time there has been a dialogue session, the US government makes bad, perverse decisions like it took this week.”

Maduro was referring to a new round of talks that was ongoing between his government’s representatives and the opposition in the Caribbean country of Barbados.

The foreign ministry of mediator Norway said on Friday that the two sides “have reiterated their willingness to advance in the search for an agreed upon and constitutional solution”.

“The representatives of the main political actors in Venezuela are continuing the negotiations,” said the ministry.

Since May, the Maduro government has engaged in negotiations with the opposition in a bid to resolve the political deadlock. However, the talks have so far failed to bridge the differences between the two sides.

Maduro, who has said he would “meet even with the devil to keep the peace in Venezuela”, said earlier last month that he was certain a peace agreement would be reached until the end of the year.

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