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Venezuela's Guaido in Colombia to meet with Pompeo: lawmaker

Venezuela's Guaido
Caracas (AFP) - Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido surfaced in Colombia on Sunday to meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as his power struggle with President Nicolas Maduro entered a challenging new phase.

"Already in #Colombia," the Venezuelan National Assembly leader wrote on Twitter, thanking Colombian President Ivan Duque for his "support for the struggle."

The move comes amid an overture by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for direct negotiations with the United States on an end to crippling US sanctions, and amid signs he is preparing for renewed confrontation with the opposition.

Guaido, who is recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries as Venezuela's acting president, will meet in Bogota with Pompeo, opposition lawmaker Stalin Gonzalez told AFP.

The US secretary of state is scheduled to arrive in the Colombian capital on Monday at the start of a Latin American tour.

"We will generate the conditions that will lead us to liberty," Guaido said, anticipating he would return to Venezuela "full of good news."

Duque, also on Twitter, said he would hold a working meeting with Guaido, and that they would both attend a regional summit Monday on the fight against terrorism.

Guaido has been barred from leaving Venezuela since proclaiming himself acting president a year ago after the National Assembly declared Maduro a "usurper."

He defied the travel ban once before, in February, when he secretly traveled to Colombia and then visited several other countries to marshal regional support for his challenge to Maduro.

- Stalled opposition bid -

The United States has been Guaido's leading international supporter but the opposition bid to force Maduro's ouster has stalled.

The political and economic crisis, which has driven an estimated 4.5 million people to emigrate, appears to be building to another peak, however.

Guaido has headed the National Assembly for the past year, but he faced a challenge early this month when Maduro supporters used strong-arm tactics to try to prevent his re-election. Read More

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