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US Willing to Engage Venezuela Despite Sanctions - State Department

Sputnik News

21:23 17.03.2015(updated 22:27 17.03.2015)

Despite putting sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials, the United States wants to have diplomatic relations with the government of Venezuela.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The United States wants to engage with the government of Venezuela despite levying sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials, a US State Department official told Sputnik on Tuesday.

"We continue to have diplomatic relations with Venezuela and remain willing to engage the Venezuelan government," the official said. "The sanctions are directed at individual human rights abusers and corrupt individuals, not at the Venezuelan people or economy."

US President Barack Obama issued an executive order imposing sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials for human rights violations and public corruption, according to a White House statement released on March 9.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called on Obama during a speech on March 12 to rescind the sanctions, describing the executive order as an "immoral decree."

The State Department official explained that the sanctions against Venezuelan officials represent "an appropriate exercise of US sovereignty with respect to our visas and our financial system."

Although the United States is Venezuela's largest trading partner and holds considerable economic leverage over Caracas, it has no desire to undermine the political or economic stability of Venezuela, the official indicated.

"Despite the statements to the contrary from Venezuelan officials, the US government is not promoting instability in Venezuela," the official said.

Relations between Washington and the Maduro government worsened over alleged human rights violations during anti-government protests in Caracas in February, 2014.

Maduro has said that he is considering limiting US diplomatic presence in his country in response to the United States' attempts to meddle in Venezuela's internal affairs.


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