‘Mil­i­tary op­tion’ on ta­ble:

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY KAREN DEY­OUNG

Trump won’t rule out U.S. in­ter­ven­tion to deal with strife in Venezuela.

Pres­i­dent Trump said Fri­day that he would not rule out a U.S. “mil­i­tary op­tion” for deal­ing with on­go­ing strife in Venezuela, where Pres­i­dent Ni­colás Maduro has cracked down on na­tion­wide protests against his in­creas­ingly dic­ta­to­rial gov­ern­ment with wide­spread ar­rests and deaths at the hands of se­cu­rity forces.

“We have troops all over the world in places that are very far away,” Trump told re­porters at his Bed­min­ster, N. J., golf club af­ter a meet­ing with Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son. “Venezuela is not very far away. . . . We have many op­tions, in­clud­ing a pos­si­ble mil­i­tary op­tion if nec­es­sary.”

Asked whether he was talk­ing about a U.S.-led op­er­a­tion, Trump said: “We don’t talk about it. But the mil­i­tary op­tion is cer­tainly some­thing we could pur­sue.” He did not elab­o­rate.

It has been years since the last di­rect U.S. mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tions in Latin Amer­ica. Such ac­tion would prob­a­bly cause up­roar in the re­gion and would be questionable un­der in­ter­na­tional law.

Vice Pres­i­dent Pence trav­els next week to South Amer­ica, where he will visit Colom­bia, Ar­gentina, Chile and Panama.

The up­heaval in Venezuela has not posed a dis­cernible threat to U.S. se­cu­rity, although some re­gional ex­perts have warned of an ex­o­dus of Venezue­lans to this coun­try if the sit­u­a­tion wors­ens. Un­til now, the United States has ad­vo­cated a re­gional re­sponse, through the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States.

Asked last week whether he an­tic­i­pated out­side mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in Venezuela, na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser H.R. McMaster, who also at­tended the New Jersey meet­ing with Trump and Tiller­son, said: “No, I don’t. I don’t think so. I think what’s re­ally re­quired is for ev­ery­one to have one voice about the need to pro­tect the rights and the safety of the Venezue­lan peo­ple.”

Pen­tagon spokesman Eric Pa­hon said Fri­day night that the De­fense De­part­ment has re­ceived no or­ders to de­ploy any­one for op­er­a­tions in Venezuela.

Late last month, de­spite na­tion­wide strikes and demon­stra­tions, Maduro pushed through a vote on a new con­stituent as­sem­bly that re­placed the op­po­si­tion-ma­jor­ity par­lia­ment and in­creased his power. In re­sponse, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion im­posed a new round of sanc­tions.

Maduro fol­lowed by jail­ing top op­po­si­tion lead­ers. The ad­min­is­tra­tion has warned of new eco­nomic mea­sures against the gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing a pos­si­ble em­bargo on oil from Venezuela, the United States’ third largest for­eign sup­plier of oil.

An em­bargo would crip­ple Venezuela’s oil in­dus­try — whose near-col­lapse is part of an eco­nomic dis­as­ter that has left food, medicine and other ne­ces­si­ties in short sup­ply there — but it would also prob­a­bly in­crease the price of en­ergy in the United States.

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