Venezuelan president stresses military unity after failed coup attempt

They already spoke by phone on Wednesday, with Pompeo accusing Moscow of meddling in the country by continuing to support embattled President Nicolas Maduro, and Lavrov accusing Washington of wielding "destructive influence" by backing opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Maduro, meanwhile, appeared at a military exercise on Saturday with Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, who top U.S. officials had said was in on the attempted uprising but backed out.

Maduro called on the military "to be ready to defend the homeland with weapons in your hands if one day the USA empire dares to touch this territory, this sacred earth".

Maduro accuses the US government of trying to foment a coup against him by backing opposition leader Juan Guaido, who denounces Maduro as illegitimate and has assumed a rival presidency.

The protest call by Guaido - the head of the National Assembly legislature, who is recognised as interim president by more than 50 countries - comes just days after he urged the military to rise up against the socialist president, Nicolas Maduro.

The armed forces said the chopper was heading to San Carlos in Cojedes state, near a military base where Maduro addressed cadets on Saturday.

On Saturday, Guaido's supporters made their own appeals to the military, responding to his call to march on military barracks in Caracas.


"All Venezuelans are here because we have the need to make our claims, we have a right", said one Guaido supporter at the demonstration.

The Supreme Court, stacked with Maduro loyalists, also ordered the rearrest of opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez, who was freed from house arrest by the rebel soldiers and who is now taking refuge in the Spanish Embassy.

While Maduro is struggling to hold onto power, it is anything but clear when or if he might step down.

"I had a very good talk with President Putin", he said.

President Donald Trump meanwhile adopted a strikingly conciliatory tone on Friday after a lengthy conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Venezuela crisis.

Guaido is considered Venezuela's legitimate leader by the US and 50 other countries. We want to get some humanitarian aid. He said Maduro's days as the Venezuelan leader are numbered, but offered no timetable.


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