Pentagon refuses to rule out US military deployment on Venezuela's border

Pentagon refuses to rule out US military deployment on Venezuela's borderThe Pentagon has refused to rule out military intervention on Venezuela’s border, a day after John Bolton, the US national security adviser, was photographed carrying a notepad that read: “5,000 troops to Colombia”. Patrick Shanahan, the acting defence secretary, was asked repeatedly whether Mr Bolton’s notes indicated a deployment. "I’m not commenting on it,” he said. “I haven't discussed that with Secretary Bolton." Mr Bolton on Monday would not rule out the use of US troops in Venezuela. "The president has made it clear on this matter that all options are on the table," he said. John Bolton, carrying the notepad on Monday The US military currently has about 200 troops in Colombia, which was among the first to follow the US lead last week and recognise “interim president” Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate ruler, and Colombia and the US have developed close security ties over past decades. Colonel Rob Manning, Pentagon spokesman, said the number of US military personnel in Colombia remained unchanged, and Carlos Holmes Trujillo, Colombia’s foreign minister, said Bogota had not been informed of any increase in the US military presence. "We are not aware of the significance or the reason" for Mr Bolton's notes, he said. The drum beat began on January 23 with Donald Trump’s recognition of Mr Guaido, and has only got louder in the intervening six days. Over the weekend Australia and Israel joined the 20-odd countries that now accept Mr Guaido as the interim president, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, told the UN security council that “the time is now” to move to oust the “illegitimate mafia state” of Mr Maduro. On Tuesday the drums got louder as the US raised the state department’s travel warning to “do not travel” – putting Venezuela in the same category as only 12 countries worldwide, among them Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. Mr Pompeo also announced on Tuesday that Mr Guaido had full control of Venezuelan assets in US federal banks. Juan Guaido, the "interim president" of Venezuela Mr Guaido is currently petitioning the Bank of England to prevent Mr Maduro getting his hands on $ 1.3 billion (£1 billion) in gold held in London vaults. Venezuela, which is struggling to provide basic services, has some $ 8 billion in foreign reserves around the world. On Monday the US placed sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company – a move designed to cripple Mr Maduro’s regime financially, and sway the military to defect. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Vladimir Putin – one of the main backers of Mr Maduro – said the Kremlin shares the view of the Venezuelan government that the sanctions are "illegal" and sees them as a tool of unfair competition on part of the United States. In Venezuela, meanwhile, the attorney-general – a Maduro loyalist – slapped a travel ban on Mr Guaido and froze his assets – both seen as symbolic gestures unlikely to have a significant impact. "More than a new threat against me, against this parliament, against the acting president of this republic, there's nothing new," said Mr Guaido. "I'm not dismissing the threats, the persecution at this time, but we're here, we're continuing to do our jobs."



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