Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said Thursday he wants to meet the man who hit him with sanctions, U.S. President Donald Trump, denouncing what he called “imperialist aggression.”
In an address that lasted more than three hours to the newly installed 545-member constitutional assembly, Maduro said he had instructed Venezuela’s foreign minister to approach the United States about arranging a telephone conversation or a meeting with Trump.
Maduro said he had also given orders, “if it can happen,” for a face-to-face meeting to be organized in New York on September 20 at the annual gathering of heads of state and government from around the world at UN General Assembly.
“If he’s so interested in Venezuela, here I am. Mister Donald Trump, here is my hand,” the Venezuelan socialist leader said, adding that he wanted as strong a relationship with the United States as he has with Russia.
Maduro’s remarks came shortly after he warned the U.S. president that Venezuela “will never give in.’”
The Trump administration has called Maduro a “dictator” and hit him and more than two dozen other former and current officials with sanctions on July 31, after the election of a constituent assembly that Washington said was “illegitimate.”
In imposing the sanctions, the administration also cited human rights violations and the undermining of the country’s democracy as the political and financial crisis escalates.
Credit Suisse bank banned the trading and use of Venezuelan bonds Thursday, citing “recent developments and the political climate” in the country.
Venezuela is facing mounting international criticism over Maduro’s crackdown on opponents and moves to consolidate power, including the selection of the all-powerful assembly.