Meanwhile, Peru expelled Venezuela’s ambassador to protest against Caracas for “undermining democracy” by establishing a new, all-powerful assembly.
US President Donald Trump said on Friday he was considering military options as a response to the escalating crisis in Venezuela, describing the situation there as a “very dangerous mess.”
“We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary,” Trump told reporters in New Jersey.
“We have troops all over the world in places that are very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and they’re dying.”
The comments came two days after his administration imposed new sanctions on Venezuela, targeting members of a loyalist assembly installed last week to bolster what Washington calls the “dictatorship” of President Nicolas Maduro.
The Venezuelan government responded to the sanctions by saying the US was “making a fool of itself in front of the world.”
Trump said Venezuela’s ongoing crisis was among the topics discussed at the talks he hosted in New Jersey on Friday with his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
“Venezuela is a mess. It is very dangerous mess and a very sad situation,” Trump said.
The Pentagon said it had not received any orders on Venezuela from the White House.
Peru expels ambassador
Peru on Friday ordered the expulsion of Venezuela’s ambassador over his country’s “break with democratic rule” under Maduro.
Ambassador Diego Molero has five days to leave Peru, the ministry said. The decision came days after Peru’s congress voted for the Venezuelan envoy to be kicked out.
“The Peruvian government ratifies its firm position of continuing to contribute to the restoration of democracy in Venezuela,” a statement said.
On Tuesday, Peru and 11 other major nations in the Americas, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile and Mexico, slammed Caracas for “undermining democracy” by establishing a new, all-powerful assembly of Maduro loyalists to override the opposition-controlled legislature.
The US has separately slapped sanctions on Maduro and on several members of the assembly for setting up what it calls a “dictatorship.”
Maduro has rejected the accusation, insisting the new body, the Constituent Assembly, was elected by eight million Venezuelan voters as a step to “peace,” notably through the rewriting of the constitution.
The US is reportedly seeking to coordinate further action against Venezuela with Latin American countries — an objective likely included in a trip US Vice President Mike Pence is making to the region starting on Sunday.
Peru’s expulsion order does not represent a suspension of diplomatic relations. That scenario was dismissed this week by Peruvian President Pablo Kuczynski.
“If we broke off relations we would have to look to another government to look after the Peruvians” living in Venezuela, he said. Some 40,000 Peruvians live there.
Peru recalled its ambassador to Caracas in late March in protest at criticisms Maduro’s government had made against Kuczynski.
Earlier on Friday, Kuczynski urged Maduro to step down, calling him a “dictator”, and rejected the socialist leader’s call for the two to meet face-to-face along with other presidents in the region.