Maduro appeals for Washington to open dialogue

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called on Tuesday for a “dialogue of civilisations” with the United States in place of sanctions and threats.

In the latest of his press conferences at the presidential palace, Mr Maduro invited US President Donald Trump to normalise relations with Venezuela — following the latest threats of economic sanctions and even military action.

“Trump does not have to be the same as us revolutionaries for us to have respectful relations with him,” he said.

But Mr Maduro said relations were now at their worst between the two governments.

On Friday the US State Department accused the Venezuelan government of “conducting itself as an authoritarian dictatorship,” and pledged to “bring the full weight of American economic and diplomatic power to bear in support of the Venezuelan people as they seek to restore their democracy.”

The US has repeatedly condemned the launch of a new assembly in the South American country which assumed legislative powers last week.

It claims the National Constituent Assembly — a body of 545 elected members — is undemocratic.

A week earlier Mr Trump openly raised the prospect of a “military option” — drawing condemnation from across Latin America.

Mr Maduro said the assembly and the government’s economic team were preparing measures in the front against “Trump’s financial siege and economic persecution.”

He warned that Venezuela would take whatever sanctions Mr Trump approves as a “challenge and opportunity for growth,” and asked the world for support for Venezuela to “overcome the threat.”