In Summary
  • The US recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president on January 23 and is leading an international campaign to drive Maduro from office.
  • Under Maduro's stewardship, oil-dependent Venezuela has lurched into an economic crisis that has left it suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.
  • Meanwhile, France has warned him that a deadline to organise elections ran out Sunday night and that Paris was preparing to recognise Guaido.

WASHINGTON,

President Donald Trump reiterated in comments broadcast Sunday that a US military intervention in Venezuela was "an option," as international pressure ramps up on embattled head of state Nicolas Maduro to step down.

Asked in an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" what could lead the United States to use military force in the crisis-wracked country, the President declined to give a specific answer.

"But certainly it's something that's on the -- it's an option," he said.

The United States recognised Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president on January 23, and is leading an international campaign to drive Mr Maduro from office.

PRESSURE

Mr Guaido says the constitution entitles him to serve as interim head of state because Mr Maduro's re-election last May was invalid, his strongest opponents having been barred from running.

Four major European nations -- Britain, France, Germany and Spain -- have said they will likewise recognise Mr Guaido's opponent unless Mr Maduro calls new presidential elections by midnight on Sunday.

President Trump has repeatedly warned "all options are on the table" in Venezuela, as his administration ramps up the pressure on Mr Maduro through economic sanctions and appeals to the country's armed forces to switch allegiances.

Under President Maduro's stewardship, oil-dependent Venezuela has lurched into an economic crisis that has left it suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.

Mr Maduro refuses to let aid into Venezuela, claiming it would precede a US-led military intervention.

DEADLINE

Meanwhile, France has warned President Maduro that a deadline to organise elections ran out Sunday night and that Paris was preparing to recognise Mr Guaido.

The Venezuelan leader has ignored demands on this but has reiterated his call to bring forward legislative elections slated for the end of 2020 to this year.

"The ultimatum ends tonight," France's European affairs minister Natalie Loiseau told French media on Sunday.

"If between now and this evening Mr Maduro does not commit to organising presidential elections, we will consider that Mr Guaido is legitimate to organise them in his place. And we will consider him as interim president until the elections."

Ms Loiseau added that Mr Maduro's suggestion of bringing forward parliamentary elections was "a farce, a tragic farce."