Mon | Dec 9, 2019

Pompeo prioritises Venezuela crisis on Latin American tour

Published:Sunday | April 14, 2019 | 12:46 AM
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, smiles for a picture with Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benitez, during official meeting at “Palacio de Lopez”, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Saturday, April 13, 2019. Pompeo is in the second of four countries’ tour that includes Chile, Peru and Colombia to address, mainly, the crisis in Venezuela. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) listens to Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benitez, during official meeting at ‘Palacio de Lopez’, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Saturday, April 13. Pompeo is in the second of four countries’ tour that includes Chile, Peru and Colombia to address, mainly, the crisis in Venezuela.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, is greeted, at his arrival to "Palacio de Lopez", in Asuncion, Paraguay, Saturday, April 13, 2019. Pompeo is in the second of four countries' tour that includes Chile, Peru and Colombia to address, mainly, the crisis in Venezuela. At left Gen. Roque Alberto Sotelo military cabinet chief and at right ambassador Federico Gonzalez.(AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo deplanes at the Silvio Pettirossi international airport, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Friday, April 12, 2019. Pompeo met Friday with Chile's president to address, mainly, the vast crisis that afflicts Venezuela in the first round of a tour that includes Paraguay, Peru and Colombia. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo waves upon his arrival to the Silvio Pettirossi international airport, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Friday, April 12, 2019. Pompeo met Friday with Chile's president to address, mainly, the vast crisis that afflicts Venezuela in the first round of a tour that includes Paraguay, Peru and Colombia. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
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ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP):

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is making the economic and political crisis in Venezuela a central theme of his four-day Latin America tour.

Paraguayan Foreign Minister Luis Castiglioni said Saturday that a meeting between Pompeo and President Mario Abdo Benítez focused on the strengthening of democracy in the region, the Venezuelan crisis, respect for human rights and combating transnational crime.

Benítez said on Twitter that the two leaders also spoke about consolidating ties between both countries.

“We are gathered to talk about the consolidation of an increasingly solid relationship,” he wrote.

On Friday, Pompeo met with Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera in the Chilean capital of Santiago, where he said China’s financing of the Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro was prolonging the country’s crisis.

Pompeo is expected to travel to Peru later Saturday before making a final stop in the Colombian border town of Cucuta on Sunday to meet with representatives of Venezuelan refugees.

Maduro has said that the US is looking for a pretext to militarily invade the country.