- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2019

President Trump said Tuesday he knows “exactly” what he’d like to see happen in Venezuela, as strongman Nicolas Maduro clings to power, though was coy about his plans as he conferred with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the White House.

“All options are on the table,” said Mr. Trump, who added he hadn’t spoken to Mr. Bolsonaro about whether he wants Brazil’s own military to intervene.

The crisis in Venezuela is in a holding pattern of sorts, as the U.S. and other global powers try to get Mr. Maduro to give way to Juan Guaido, the National Assembly leader who invoked powers to name himself the interim president.

Global leaders have blamed Mr. Maduro for widespread hunger, power outages and other humanitarian problems in the South American nation. They say he is an illegitimate leader, pointing to evidence his reelection was a sham.

The U.S. and Brazil have tried to ramp up diplomatic and financial pressure on Mr. Maduro, saying they want a peaceful transition, though Mr. Trump hasn’t completely ruled out a military role.

More broadly, Mr. Trump said he would discuss “different military sites and military options” for U.S. operations in Brazil and is working on streamlining the visa process and trade between their countries.

“Our trade with Brazil will go substantially up … and that’s one of the things Brazil would like to see,” Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump also said he will look “very, very strongly” at providing Brazil with NATO privileges.

Status as a major “non-NATO ally” would give the South American nation special privileges, such as better access to purchases of U.S. military equipment and quicker export processing. Seventeen countries enjoy the status, and Brazil would be the second Latin American country, after Argentina, to receive the designation.

Mr. Trump floated the potential status as he met with Mr. Bolsonaro in the Oval Office.

Mr. Bolsonaro, who became president Jan. 1, is a right-wing populist who has been dubbed the “Trump of the Tropics.” He picked the U.S. as the site of his first major bilateral visit abroad.

At the White House, Mr. Bolsonaro said he was pleased to meet with Mr. Trump after what he described as decades of “anti-U.S.” presidents in his country.

Seated under the George Washington portrait, Mr. Trump said he is “honored” that people compared Mr. Bolsonaro’s campaign to his own and that Brazil and the U.S. have “never been closer.”

Mr. Trump presented Mr. Bolsonaro with a number-19 U.S. soccer jersey, and Brazil gave Mr. Trump’ a number-10 jersey from Brazil.

Mr. Trump noted Brazil’s prowess in the sport and highlighted its best-known legend, Pele.

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