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Pompeo Wants Venezuela Suspended From Organization Of American States

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza defended Venezuela

The OAS's general assembly in Washington voted, with 19 member states in favor, four against and 11 abstaining, to take the first step to suspending the South American nation.

He also denounced what he called an ongoing US aggression against Venezuela.

Carlos Trujillo, the US representative to the OAS, said the region's firm stance against Venezuela was long overdue.

The Organization of American States (OAS) is meeting at its 48-first General assembly to decide wher to suspend Venezuela's membership of institution representing all countries of continent.

The OAS had urged Venezuela to postpone its May 20 presidential election, fearing it was unfair and lacked transparency.

Maduro's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza was present as the OAS meeting opened to defend his government and to hear Pompeo reiterate the United States call for Venezuela's suspension.

In Caracas, Maduro accused the United States of pressuring several countries in a "vulgar" way, claiming the US was threatening to withdraw financial aid and even impose sanctions to get its way.

"The suspension is not a goal by itself, but it will show that the OAS backs its words with actions", said Pompeo at the General Assembly, the highest-level meeting of the OAS.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won re-election in a May vote that the Venezuelan opposition, along with the United States and other Latin American nations, have decried as a sham cementing a dictatorship.

Arreaza protested that the situation in Venezuela was a domestic one, placed on the agenda of an worldwide meeting "in a spurious manner" - but other ministers disagreed.

The Lima Group and the USA had already refused to recognize the victory of Maduro in the May presidential election, saying it failed to meet "international standards of a democratic, free, just and transparent process". But under the OAS charter, it takes two years for a nation to quit the organization and officials could change their mind.

Since the May 20 election, Maduro has begun to free opponents jailed after violent anti-government protests past year, casting the releases as a peace gesture and calling for global dialogue. "No government has the moral authority to recognize or not our government".

"Only real elections will allow your government to be included in the family of nations", the US Secretary of State told the Venezuelan government.

Today, a declaration on Nicaragua is also to be discussed, presented on Monday amid growing pressure for the OAS to deal with a crisis that already left over a hundred dead and that had initially been left off the agenda. Pompeo renewed a call last month by Vice President Mike Pence that Caracas be suspended from the group.