Er­doğan slams Venezuela sanc­tions, Maduro de­fends gold ex­ports

Cyprus Today - - TURKEY -

PRES­I­DENT Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan on Mon­day crit­i­cised sanc­tions on Venezuela dur­ing a visit to Cara­cas, while Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro de­fended the coun­try’s right to ex­port gold af­ter US sanc­tions last month tar­geted its ship­ments of the metal.

Wash­ing­ton has im­posed sanc­tions on Venezue­lan of­fi­cials it ac­cuses of cor­rup­tion, and on cer­tain fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions with the Maduro gov­ern­ment, which it ac­cuses of vi­o­lat­ing hu­man rights and trig­ger­ing an eco­nomic melt­down. Ties be­tween Tur­key and the United States, two Nato al­lies, have also been strained.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump last month signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der ban­ning any­one in the United States from deal­ing with en­ti­ties and peo­ple in­volved in “cor­rupt or de­cep­tive” gold sales from the South Amer­i­can coun­try. Tur­key this year has be­come the largest im­porter of non-mon­e­tary gold from Venezuela.

“Po­lit­i­cal prob­lems can­not be re­solved by pu­n­ish­ing an en­tire na­tion,” Mr Er­doğan said, with Mr Maduro by his side at a fo­rum at­tended by busi­ness peo­ple from both coun­tries. “We do not ap­prove of these mea­sures that ig­nore the rules of global trade.”

Venezuela is suf­fer­ing a bout of hy­per­in­fla­tion and a fifth year of re­ces­sion that has led to short­ages of food and medicine. Mr Maduro fre­quently blames a US “eco­nomic war” for the coun­try’s woes but crit­ics say the cri­sis is proof so­cial­ist poli­cies started un­der his pre­de­ces­sor Hugo Chavez have failed.

While Mr Er­doğan did not di­rectly men­tion the United States or Mr Trump, he said his “friend”, Mr Maduro, was fac­ing “ma­nip­u­la­tive at­tacks from cer­tain coun­tries and acts of sab­o­tage from eco­nomic as­sas­sins.” He added he was will­ing to strengthen trade ties with Venezuela.

Trade be­tween the two coun­tries have been grow­ing, with Turk­ish data show­ing the coun­try im­ported $900 mil­lion in gold from Venezuela in the first nine months of the year. With­out nam­ing the United States, Mr Maduro de­cried sanc­tions and said Venezuela had the right to sell gold.

“It is very petty to try to use an il­le­gal sanc­tion to pre­vent Venezuela from sell­ing its gold to the world,” Mr Maduro said dur­ing a joint press con­fer­ence later on Mon­day with Mr Er­doğan, who also vis­ited Paraguay af­ter at­tend­ing the Group of 20 sum­mit in Ar­gentina last week­end.

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan and Venezuela’s Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro at Mi­raflo­res Palace in Cara­cas on Mon­day

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