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Donald Trump says U.S. considering ‘military option’ in Venezuela

Click to play video 'President Trump says military option could be used for Venezuela' President Trump says military option could be used for Venezuela
WATCH: President Trump says military option could be used for Venezuela

U.S. President Donald Trump says that he won’t rule out American military intervention in Venezuela.

Flanked by his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, Trump told reporters on Friday that military action was one of “many options” being considered to take action against the crisis-stricken South American country.

READ MORE: New Venezuelan government’s first moves include arresting opposition leaders

“This is our neighbour, we’re all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and they’re dying,” Trump said.

“We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”

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Venezuela’s defence minister branded Trump’s threat “an act of craziness,” while the country’s communications minister called it “an unprecedented threat to national sovereignty.”

The Pentagon said it hadn’t received any orders on Venezuela from the White House.

WATCH: Pressure mounts on Canada to slap sanctions on Venezuela’s president

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Pressure mounts on Canada to slap sanctions on Venezuela’s president

Oil-rich Venezuela has been crippled by four months of protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro. Over 120 people have been killed and thousands arrested in the unrest.

The leftist politician’s party further consolidated its powers after a recent election that was broadly boycotted by voters and opposition parties, and slammed as a “step towards dictatorship” by the United States.

The Trump administration reacted by slapping financial sanctions on Maduro, who responded by labelling Trump “the weakest American president in over a century,” according to a tweet from Delcy Rodriguez, head of Venezuela’s constitutional assembly.

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READ MORE: U.S. hits Venezuela with new sanctions after ‘sham’ election

But Trump refrained from levelling sanctions at Venezuela’s oil industry, which supplies the U.S. with around 740,000 barrels of oil per day.

Last Sunday, Venezuelan authorities quashed a small rebellion near a military base, killing two people and arresting eight others. Officials accused the men of acting at the behest of U.S.-backed opposition groups.

WATCH: Two killed as Venezuela crushes attack on military base

Click to play video 'Two killed as Venezuela crushes attack on military base' Two killed as Venezuela crushes attack on military base
Two killed as Venezuela crushes attack on military base

Venezuela has a long history of political instability; Maduro’s mentor and predecessor Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013, began his political career with a failed coup attempt in 1992 before winning the presidency six years later.

– With files from Reuters

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