Australia backs Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president


Last week, the Trump administration allegedly requested that Israel publicly endorse the U.S.'s efforts to force Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to resign and to back Guaido as the interim president.

Washington has threatened to intervene if any threats are made against American diplomats or Guaido, with President Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton warning any such actions will be met with "a significant response".

The embattled second-term leader cut ties with the US Wednesday after the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guiado as Venezuela's interim president, a move Maduro blasted as an attempted coup.

Countries around the world have recognized Guaido as Venezuela's rightful leader, and the United States vowed to starve Maduro's administration of oil revenue after he was sworn in on January 10 for a second term that was widely dubbed illegitimate.

Guaido has asked for help in getting control of the Venezuelan government's offshore assets and today scrambled to take control of the country's main foreign asset, United States refiner Citgo Petroleum.

"We are going through a historical war for Venezuela, for our democracy and independence", Maduro said, and accused the USA of the recent crises in his country.

At the United Nations on Saturday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged all nations to end Venezuela's "nightmare" and support Guaido.

"Nobody gives us an ultimatum", Maduro said.

Maduro was succeeded late President Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez-himself the victim of an allegedly CIA-supported coup in 2002-after his death in 2013.

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The U.S. announced sanctions against Venezuela amid its political crisis.

On Monday, a consular officer in Miami joined Venezuela's military attache in Washington, Col. Jose Luis Silva, in ditching support for Maduro and recognizing Guaido.

At the same time, Maduro - flanked by his top brass - watched military exercises in a display that, he said, showed the world he had the backing of the armed forces which were ready to defend the country.

His appeals have included promises of amnesty, and mass protests to dramatize the depth of popular opposition to Maduro, who has presided over a virtual collapse of the economy and a severe humanitarian crisis, with shortages of food and medicines.

Highlighting that Guaido violated the constitution, he said, however, he was not a jury and the issue would be solved in accordance with the law.

"We will continue denouncing USA lies, and I will continue to encourage national dialogue because I am up for a dialogue with all the political opposition, with the opposition media", he said.

Australia has joined the U.S. in backing Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela.

The small number of USA diplomats in Venezuela, he said, "will remain and comfortably continue their lives with the protection we will provide for them".

The opposition leader also said he would consider amnesty for Mr Maduro and his allies if they don't hamper his ascension to temporary power. Reuters news agency reported on Friday that private military contractors who do secret missions for Russian Federation flew into Venezuela to beef up security for Maduro.