Venezuela's Maduro says he may not attend U.N. assembly on security worries

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro talks to the media during a news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, September 18, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday he was evaluating whether or not he would attend this week’s United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, citing concerns about his safety.

“You know they have me in their sights to kill me ... I want to go to New York but I have to take care of my security,” Maduro said at a news conference, without elaborating on who might target him.

Earlier during the same news conference, Maduro said Venezuelan ex-military officers were conspiring to overthrow his government with the help of the United States.

In August, two drones exploded over an outdoor rally in Caracas where Maduro was giving a speech, injuring seven soldiers and leading to the arrest of over a dozen suspects, including several military officials. Maduro described it as an assassination attempt.

The New York Times reported on Sept. 8 that U.S. officials had met with rebellious Venezuelan military officers, leading Maduro to accuse U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration of seeking an intervention and supporting a coup.

The U.S. National Security Council responded at the time that U.S. policy preference was for “a peaceful, orderly return to democracy in Venezuela.”

Venezuela’s economy has collapsed under Maduro, with annual inflation running at 200,000 percent, and staple foods and basic medicine increasingly difficult to obtain.

The 73rd session of the General Assembly, which Maduro has not attended since 2015, started on Tuesday.

Reporting by Angus Berwick, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien