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Sun, 12 July 2020

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US Secretary of State brands Jeremy Corbyn 'disgusting' over support for disputed Venezuelan president

US Secretary of State brands Jeremy Corbyn 'disgusting' over support for disputed Venezuelan president

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has branded Jeremy Corbyn “disgusting” over his backing for Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.


The Donald Trump ally attacked political leaders in the UK as well as the US who “continue to support the murderous dictator”.

The Labour leader has supported the Maduro administration in the past and has condemned “outside interference” in the country, which has been gripped by an economic and political crisis for months.

Mr Maduro was sworn in for a second term in January following disputed elections, leading to clashes between his supporters and those of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the head of Venezuela's National Assembly.

Mr Guaidó has been recognised by several countries, including the UK and America, as Venezuela's rightful leader until fresh elections are held.

Asked during his first official UK visit about the refusal by Mr Corbyn to speak out against Mr Maduro, the US Secretary of State gave the leader and other sympathisers of the regime both barrels.

“It is disgusting to see leaders, not only in the United Kingdom but in the United States as well, who continue to support the murderous dictator Maduro,” he told a press conference at the Foreign Office in London.

“It is not in either of our country’s best interests for those leaders to continue to advocate on their behalf.”

He said the poverty in Venezuela was a “direct result of Nicolas Maduro and no leader in a country with Western democratic values ought to stand behind him”.

But a Labour spokesperson said: “We oppose outside interference in Venezuela, whether from the US or anywhere else: the future of Venezuela is a matter for Venezuelans.”

HUAWEI WARNING

Elsewhere, Mr Pompeo issued a thinly-veiled warning to the UK not to allow Chinese tech firm Huawei to provide services in the building of the British 5G network, amid fears it could open up a security risk from Beijing.

Theresa May is said to support Huawei involvement in “non-core” infrastructure only, according to a leaked national security briefing that led to the sacking of former defence secretary Gavin Williamson.

But Mr Pompeo said: “I have great confidence that the United Kingdom will never take an action that will break the special relationship."

He added: "Each country has a sovereign right to make its own decision about how to deal with the challenge.

“The United States has an obligation to ensure that, [in] places where we operate, places where American information is, places where we have our national security risks, that they operate inside trusted networks."

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who stood alongside Mr Pompeo at the press conference, insisted the Government had not “made our final decisions” on the Huawei issue.

He added: “We are considering the evidence very carefully, but we would never take a decision that compromised our ability to share intelligence with our five eyes colleagues.”

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