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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido left the country to start an international tour that includes meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, according to people familiar with his plans.
Guaido is already in Colombia and will meet with President Ivan Duque Sunday afternoon, Duque said on Twitter. He plans to attend an international conference against terrorism on Monday in Colombia at which Pompeo is due to speak. He will also meet with presidents of countries that recognize him as head of state.
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Guaido last defied a travel ban in March, risking jail to visit Colombia and Brazil. As well as Colombia and Davos, his tour will include a visit to the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Brussels.
While more than 50 countries recognize Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela he has struggled to translate that support into concrete gains against a regime that remains solidly entrenched. Last April, he tried to lead an uprising against the government of President Nicolas Maduro which failed after most of the armed forces refused to join.
Pompeo, on his plane from Berlin, confirmed that he expected to meet with Guaido and suggested continued support.
“Our mission in Venezuela has not changed,” Pompeo told reporters. “Maduro has been destructive.”
“Our mission is to continue to work through all of the diplomatic channels to achieve the outcome that President Trump has laid out now about 18 months ago,” he said.
Maduro gave an interview to the Washington Post, published late yesterday, in which he called for direct talks with the U.S. and said Pompeo was among those giving President Donald Trump bad advice.
Guaido’s team started organizing the tour at the end of last year, as a strategy to boost his profile and maintain international support.
He had also hoped to meet with Trump and Emmanuel Macron of France, but those meetings are still unconfirmed, the people said. His initial idea had been to make the trip as soon as he was sworn in as Leader of the National Assembly for another year on Jan. 5.
But he had to delay after a group of lawmakers backed by Maduro voted in a rival leader even as security forces blocked Guaido and opposition members from entering the building.
(Adds Pompeo quotes from 5th paragraph)
--With assistance from Kevin Cirilli.
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