April 10, 2019 / 4:05 PM / 14 days ago

Maduro government a threat to U.S. national security: Pompeo

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gives a speech during a rally in support of his government in Caracas, Venezuela April 6, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Venezuela poses a threat to the United States, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, referring to the increased involvement of Russia, Iran and Cuba in the country.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that ... the Maduro regime presents a threat to the United States of America,” Pompeo told a U.S. congressional hearing.

He added: “It is clearly ... a true threat to the United States.”

The United States is among more than 50 countries that have recognized Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president and imposed sanctions against Maduro and government officials.

Guaido invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency in January, saying Maduro’s re-election was not legitimate.

The Trump administration has said that Maduro has surrounded himself with Cuban security and intelligence officials, and told Moscow to withdraw some 100 Russian troops that arrived in Venezuela in March.

Iran has joined China and Russia, which have flown supplies into Venezuela in support of Maduro.

An Iranian delegation landed in Venezuela this week to discuss launching direct commercial flights between the two countries, Venezuela’s foreign minister said.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Patricia Zengerle; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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