Venezuela on collision course with US as Maduro says buying Iran missiles ‘good idea’

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Mr Maduro and US President Donald Trump have not been on the best of terms after the Republican firebrand – along with a host of other world leaders – branded the Venezuelan president’s re-election in 2018 a sham. Now Mr Maduro is attempting to strengthen the ties between Caracas and Iran – another country which has met the fury of the US President. In May Iranian oil tankers supplied Venezuela with gasoline to ease the countries chronic shortages due to US sanctions.

The irony of oil shortages in Venezuela is that the country has has the world’s largest oil reserves, and the eighth largest natural gas reserves.

President Maduro in a televised broadcast said: “It had not occurred to me, it had not occurred to us what a good idea to speak with Iran.

“We could then see what short, medium and long range missiles they have, and if it is possible, given the great relations we have with Iran.”

However, it was announced by Colombian president Ivan Duque said on Thursday that Mr Maduro was seeking to buy Iranian missiles.

The president of Columbia announced the news during a televised event.

He said: “There is information from international intelligence organisms that work with us which shows there is interest from the dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro in acquiring some medium and long-range missiles through Iran.

“The information is that the missiles still haven’t arrived but there has been contact especially under instructions from Venezuela Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino,”

The Columbian president also claimed that the Venezuelan regime was handing over weapons made in Russia and Belarus to Colombian armed groups.

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However, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called the claim the country was arming Columbian factions “fiction” on Twitter.

He tweeted: “In Colombia the massacres, unleashed violence, uncontrollable drug trafficking do not stop.

“Ivan Duque returns to infamies and anti-Venezuelan fiction to distract public opinion.”

Also, other observers claim weapons purchases by Venezuela appear relatively unlikely as the country can barely pay for its basic food and energy needs.

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But, Columbian president Duque attested again that Mr Maduro was supporting former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

This guerrilla movement rejected a 2016 peace deal with the Columbian government.

The armed group is involved in drug trafficking and illegal gold mining in the border areas between the two countries.

Colombia is the top destination for Venezuelans who have fled their country in recent years.

More than 1.7 million Venezuelans reside in Colombia.

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