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BY: Susan Crabtree
The Venezuelan foreign minister traveled to Washington and met with a top State Department official in late July, one week before President Nicolas Maduro pressed ahead with an election that dismantled the country’s democracy and cemented his leadership.
State - Department - Meeting - Members - Congress
The State Department previously did not disclose the meeting and many key members of Congress did not know about it, according to several government sources.
Vice President Mike Pence plans to speak to a Venezuelan enclave of Miami late Wednesday afternoon to reassure the community that the Trump administration is taking a strong, carefully planned approach.
Ahead - Speech - News - July - Meeting
Ahead of that speech, news of the late July meeting and new details about a State Department push to begin a potential mediation with the Maduro government—possibly through a third party—is sparking new concerns that the White House and State Department aren’t unified on their strategy to resolve the political and economic crisis in Venezuela.
The State Department confirmed the meeting between Tom Shannon, undersecretary for political affairs, and then-Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada took place July 23 but would not discuss details of the discussions.
Conversations - Spokesperson - State - Bureau - Western
"We do not discuss diplomatic conversations," a spokesperson for State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs told the Washington Free Beacon. "We maintain diplomatic relations with Venezuela and raise at all levels our call for the government to suspend the Constituent Assembly."
The White House did not respond to an inquiry asking if it knew about, and signed off on, Shannon’s July 23 meeting. National Security Council staff are usually aware of foreign diplomats’ trips to Washington, especially when those visits involve meetings on Capitol Hill.
Source - Sen - Bob - Corker - R
A knowledgeable source said Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also met with Moncada in late July.
Advocates for stronger sanctions against Venezuela worry that the State Department meeting between Shannon, Secretary of State Rex...
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