Venezuela denounces U.S. military interference after NYT report

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s foreign minister accused the United States of seeking an intervention and supporting military conspiracies, following a report U.S. officials had met with Venezuelan military officers to discuss a coup plot.

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The Trump administration held secret meetings with rebellious military officers over the last year to discuss their plans to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The article cited unnamed American officials and a former Venezuelan military commander who participated in the talks.

“We denounce the intervention plans and support for military conspirators by the government of the United States against Venezuela,” Jorge Arreaza wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Even in U.S. media, the crass evidence is coming to light.”

Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council, did not deny the report, but said in a statement that the “U.S. policy preference for a peaceful, orderly return to democracy in Venezuela remains unchanged.”

U.S. President Donald Trump last year said the United States was considering all options with respect to Venezuela, including the “military option.”

The comments brought widespread condemnation from countries around the region as well as from Maduro’s adversaries in Venezuela.

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

Citizens are increasingly seeking refuge in nearby countries including Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Maduro says the country is the victim of an “economic war” led by opposition politicians with the help of the Trump administration, which has slapped several rounds of sanctions on his government.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Lisa Shumaker