Trump says not to rule out military option in Venezuela
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he would not rule out a "military option" in Venezuela.
"We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary," Trump told reporters at his golf club retreat in New Jersey, northeast of the United States.
Meanwhile, the president did not directly answer a question about whether the U.S. troops would lead the potential operation.
"We don't talk about it," said Trump after his meeting at the golf club with State Secretary Rex Tillerson and Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
The U.S. defense department Pentagon said after Trump's words that it had not received any order on Venezuela from the White House.
A week ago, Trump's top national security adviser H. R. McMaster said on a TV show that he did not see a military intervention from any outside source as likely.
Trump's remarks came amid escalating tensions between Washington and Caracas over Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly (ANC) which was formed after an election on July 30.
The 545-member assembly, which has the rights to amend the constitution and reorganize the government, "aims to repair the malfunction" plaguing the country's governing system, according to Delcy Rodriguez, the recently elected president of the new legislative body.
The ANC has supreme power over all government branches, including the National Assembly, or Congress, which was under the opposition's control.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who proposed the ANC in May, vowed on Thursday to abide by any decisions made by the body.
The right-wing opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) boycotted the initiative and refused to participate in the July 30 election, claiming it would only to strengthen the power of the ruling socialist party.
The U.S. government, which backs the opposition coalition, condemned the election for the ANC, claiming it "undermines the Venezuelan people's right to self-determination."
The United States has joined Mexico, Colombia and Panama in saying that they would not recognize the voting results.
After the election, the United States slapped a string of sanctions on Venezuelan individuals involved in the creation of the ANC, including Maduro.
Maduro later rebuffed U.S. sanctions that targeted him personally, saying he was "proud" to be singled out by the measure.