Aug. 11 (UPI) — Amid his country’s ongoing economic and political crises, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro — a frequent critic of the United States — has called for a face-to-face meeting with President Donald Trump.
Maduro on Thursday addressed the 545-member Constituent Assembly, which was formed recently to make changes to Venezuela’s constitution despite accusations the body will tighten Maduro’s grip on power.
In his remarks, the Venezuelan leader asked for a “personal conversation” with Trump when they gather in New York City next month at the United Nations General Assembly.
“If he’s so interested in Venezuela, here I am. Mr. Donald Trump, here is my hand,” Maduro said during the three-hour speech, in which he later accused “imperialists” of threatening his regime.
He added that Venezuela “will never cede to foreign powers.”
Over the last week, the U.S. Treasury Department issued sanctions against Maduro and several other Venezuelan individuals in response to the vote to establish the new legislative body — which also prompted global bank Credit Suisse to end transactions with the Venezuelan government.
Additionally, Goldman Sachs faces scrutiny after it purchased $2.8 billion in bonds from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. There have yet to be any U.S. sanctions against Venezuela’s oil industry, although the decline in global oil prices has sent the country’s economy into a downfall — and the United States relies to a degree on Venezuelan oil imports.
More than 120 people have died since April in anti-government demonstrations related to the ongoing crises.