USA imposes sanctions on Venezuela's First Lady Cilia Flores

U.S. slaps sanctions on top Venezuelan officials, including President Maduro’s wife

U.S. slaps sanctions on top Venezuelan officials, including President Maduro’s wife

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro headed for NY on Wednesday to attend the United Nations General Assembly and U.S. President Donald Trump said he would be open to meeting the socialist leader of the crisis-stricken South American nation.

Earlier in the day, the Trump administration slapped financial sanctions on four members of Maduro's inner circle, including his wife and the nation's vice president, on allegations of corruption.

Delcy Rodriguez, the executive vice president of Venezuela and Jorge Rodriguez, the minister of popular power for communication and information, and Vladimir Padrino, the defense minister also were also sanctioned by the USA government.

Trump declined to respond to questions about whether a USA -led military intervention in the crisis-stricken country was possible, saying he doesn't reveal military strategy.

"The United States will continue to use the full weight of American economic and diplomatic power to help create the conditions for the restoration of democracy for the Venezuelan people", the Treasury statement added.

"Currently, we are witnessing a human tragedy, as an example, in Venezuela".

Maduro confirmed in a video broadcast on Venezuelan state television that he was on his way to defend Venezuela, giving voice to his country on the global stage.

Countries in the region say they are struggling to cope with the influx of Venezuelans and a group 14 Latin American and Caribbean countries as well as Canada, known as the the Lima Group, are due to meet on Tuesday in NY to discuss how to deal with the mass migration.

The newly sanctioned first lady, Cilia Flores, accompanied Maduro to NY.

Pressure on Venezuela has also been growing within Latin America.

His comments came just a day after Trump suggested Maduro could easily be toppled in a military coup, echoing comments first floated a year ago that some sort of "military solution" may be needed to restore Venezuela's democracy.

The White House said no meeting was planned between the two leaders, and Venezuela's information ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

In this photo released by the Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, left, and his wife Cilia Flores greet supporters upon their arrival to a meeting with Colombian citizens that reside in Venezuela, In Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018.

But his desire for some sort of reconciliation with the U.S. has increased as global pressure has been building on his socialist government at a time of hyperinflation and widespread food and medicine shortages.

The U migration and refugees organisations said in a joint statement in August that 2.3 million Venezuelans are now living overseas and more than 1.6 million have left since 2015.

"All options are on the table", Trump said.

In a media note accompanying the sanctions, the State Department noted that the measure is meant to change behavior and can be lifted once the people sanctioned "take concrete and meaningful actions to restore democratic order, refuse to take part in human rights abuses and speak out against abuses committed by the government, and combat corruption in Venezuela".

"If you want to attack me, come at me directly".

Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire reported this story at the United Nations and AP writer Scott Smith reported from Caracas, Venezuela.

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