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Colombia's Duque says prosecute 'war criminal' Maduro

1 min 20Approximate reading time

Colombia's President Ivan Duque called Saturday for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to be prosecuted as a "war criminal" in a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Duque spoke as Pompeo rounded off a three-day tour of Venezuela's neighbors designed to increase pressure on the socialist leader to leave power.

Duque, a key US ally in the region, said a UN report this week showed "that this is a regime behind violations of human rights that are systematic, and that the head of this dictatorship is a war criminal and the international community must put an end to the situation."

"Nicolas Maduro is responsible for crimes against humanity as is his inner circle," the Colombian leader said, flanked by Pompeo at Casa de Narino presidential palace in Bogota.

The 411-page UN Human Rights Council report accused Maduro and his inner circle of being responsible for probable crimes against humanity. Caracas dismissed the report as "riddled with falsehoods."

Pompeo described his right-wing host as "a true leader for the region and the dignity of its people."

He said Duque's support "of Interim President Juan Guaido" and "a sovereign Venezuela free of the malign influences of Cuba and Russia and Iran is incredibly valuable."

He said violence on the part of guerrilla groups like FARC dissidents, the ELN "or any other terrorist or criminal group is unacceptable."

"It cannot be tolerated nor can the actions of regimes like Maduro's which provides safe haven and a deep comfort to those terrorists."

The US official also announced new technical assistance to help develop Colombia's "energy minerals sector".

Pompeo arrived in Bogota late Friday after visiting a center for Venezuelan refugees in the Brazilian border town of Boa Vista, emphasizing the plight of nearly five million Venezuelans who had fled the country's economic meltdown under Maduro.

The US top diplomat said on Friday that Maduro "has to leave" power, drawing a furious accusation of "war-mongering" from the Venezuelan leader.

Pompeo began his three-day South American trip on Thursday in Suriname and Guyana, and will conclude it this weekend with a stop at an Evangelical mega-church in Dallas, Texas.

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