LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday he was disgusted to see politicians in Britain, as well as in the United States, continue to support Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Responding to a reporter who asked about support for Venezuela’s government by Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, Pompeo was blunt in his criticism.
“It is disgusting to see leaders in not only the United Kingdom but in the United States as well who continue to support the murderous dictator Maduro,” Pompeo said at a news conference in London.
British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, speaking at the same news conference, criticised Labour’s second-most senior official, John McDonnell, for supporting Maduro.
A Labour spokeswoman said the party’s position on Venezuela was to call for no foreign interference in the country.
“We oppose outside interference in Venezuela, whether from the U.S. or anywhere else: the future of Venezuela is a matter for the Venezuelans,” she said.
The leftist Venezuelan president has faced pressure to quit since taking office for a second term. Opposition leader Juan Guaido, calling Maduro’s 2018 re-election fraudulent, invoked the constitution in January to assume an interim presidency and has been recognised by the United States and most other Western nations as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
Pompeo renewed his criticisms of Labour later on Wednesday when he was asked in a television interview whether Washington was seeking to interfere in the Latin American country.
“Yes, well, providing food for starving children isn’t interference. It’s what we do. It’s in our deepest traditions of humanitarian assistance,” he told Sky News.
“The interference has taken place. The Cubans are there. They have interfered. So I hope Mr Corbyn will ask the Cubans to cease their interference in Venezuela.”
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton; Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Elisabeth O'Leary and Frances Kerry