Washington has stepped up the rhetoric against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, calling his Russia-backed government a threat to the United States and urging the world to recognize his opponent as the legitimate ruler of the oil-rich South American country.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on April 10 said the increased involvement of Russia, Iran, and Cuba in Venezuela made Maduro's government a "true" threat to the United States.
"I don't think there is any doubt that...the Maduro regime presents a threat to the United States of America," Pompeo told a congressional hearing.
"It is clearly...a true threat to the United States," added Pompeo, who is scheduled on April 11 to begin a four-day trip to trip to the region to visit U.S. allies Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence called on the UN Security Council to acknowledge self-declared interim President Juan Guaido as the legal ruler of Venezuela.
"The time has come for the United Nations to recognize [Guaido] as the legitimate president of Venezuela and seat his representative in this body," Pence said.
The United States and more than 50 other countries recognize Guaido as interim president. Russia, China, Iran, Syria, and Cuba are among those backing Maduro.
The U.S. administration has told Moscow to withdraw some 100 Russian troops that arrived in the country last month and has accused Maduro of surrounding himself with Cuban security and intelligence officials.
Iran, which along with China and Russia has flown supplies into Venezuela in support of Maduro, landed a delegation in the country this week to discuss beginning direct commercial flights between the two countries.