- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he believes there is no point in further negotiations with Venezuelan socialist President Nicolas Maduro as the U.S. and other countries in the region are demanding he step down.

Speaking before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday, Mr. Pompeo said “there is no evidence that there is any value in speaking with Marudo at this time,” when asked about proposed mediation talks led by Uruguay and Mexico to induce him to leave the country and allow U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido to become the interim president.

“His time has come. His time has gone. It’s time for him to leave,” Mr. Pompeo added.

The secretary said the U.S. is prepared to increase sanctions on Venezuela and called the existing penalties the Trump administration has imposed “historic.”

The U.S. levied additional sanctions on Venezuela’s financial industries earlier this month and has revoked the visas of military leaders and members of Mr. Maduro’s inner circle.

“You have this administration’s commitment to continue to work to deliver for the Venezuelan people,” Mr. Pompeo said to Rep. Albio Sires, New Jersey Democrat.

A host of sanctions are still on the table to implement on Venezuela and Mr. Maduro’s regime, the secretary said, including economic sanctions, sanctions on military leaders, and outreach through diplomats.

The ongoing penalties are an effort “to try to convince the armies of the fool’s errand it is to stand with this thug,” he said. “We’re hard at it.”

Mr. Pompeo testified on Capitol Hill even as President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were meeting at the White House with Mr. Guaido’s wife, Fabiana Rosales, in a show of support for the Venezuelan opposition.

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