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Pompeo will visit the border with Brazil as the US increases pressure on Maduro

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during the third annual US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue at the State Department in Washington, DC, September 14, 2020. REUTERS / Erin Scott / Pool

BRAZIL (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit the Brazilian city of Boa Vista near the border with Venezuela on Friday to meet with Venezuelan migrants, U.S. and Brazil officials said Tuesday as Washington stepped up pressure. to oust his left-wing President Nicolas Maduro.

His Sept. 17-20 trip will also take Venezuela to other neighbors Colombia, Suriname and Guyana to meet with their leaders, the State Department said.

This comes at a time when international efforts to advance democratic change in Venezuela seem to have stalled and Maduro has asserted his control of power despite political and economic unrest that led 5 million Venezuelans to flee the country.

The trip will highlight the United States’ commitment to defending democracy, the State Department said. In Boa Vista, Pompeo will visit Venezuelan migrants fleeing man-made disaster in Venezuela, she said in a statement.

Pompeo will make a 3-hour-20-minute stop in Boa Vista on Friday afternoon to visit a triage center for the reception of Venezuelan migrants and to meet with Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, the Brazilian government said.

The border with Venezuela has been closed since March 18 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the influx of migrants crossing into Brazil has dropped from an average of 600 a day in a small portion of Venezuela walking along cross-country trails.

US sanctions targeting Venezuela’s oil industry have cut Caracas’ crude exports to their lowest level in decades, but they have failed to free Maduro’s power – something that has irritated President Donald Trump, officials say.

With the Novembers presidential election approaching, Washington is preparing to toughen its stance, especially with more sanctions targeting Venezuela’s oil and gold industries.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in Washington and Anthony Boadle in Brazil; Edited by Richard Chang

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