Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said Thursday he wants a meeting with President Donald Trump - the same man he ridicules as a crass imperial magnate and blasts for United States sanctions against officials in his socialist administration.
"The question is not whether we participate or not, but which decision contributes better to overcome this dictatorial regime", Andres Velasquez, an opposition party leader, said Wednesday at a Caracas news conference held by the Democratic Unity Roundtable, the main coalition fighting Maduro's socialist autocracy.
In his remarks, the Venezuelan leader asked for a "personal conversation" with Trump when they gather in New York City next month at the United Nations General Assembly.
"If he (Trump) is so interested in Venezuela, here I am", he said in his three-hour address to the 545 member assembly.More news: Voting ends in Kenya's fiercely contested elections
Senators from the oil states of the US urged President Donald Trump to not block oil shipments from Venezuela as part of USA sanctions against the country, saying it could raise costs for US fuel consumers.
The U.S. Treasury Department brandished the socialist leader a " dictator " last week and issued a string of new sanctions against him and a number of Venezuelan officials after the government staged what many observers said was a fraudulent vote to create an all-powerful legislative body.
But Maduro struck a defiant stance against what he called America's "imperialist aggression", accusing Washington of being involved in an attack on an army base last weekend by uniformed rebels led by two renegade Venezuelan officers.
On Wednesday, a fifth opposition mayor in Venezuela was removed from his post and ordered under arrest in the continuing crackdown on Maduro's adversaries.More news: Trial over allegation that DJ groped Taylor Swift begins today
The Archbishop of Caracas also denounced that "in recent weeks, we have seen how the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice has levied very severe sanctions against several opposition mayors".
"This government invades the spaces that it is not capable of legitimately winning", Stalin Gonzalez, an opposition lawmaker, wrote on Twitter of the assembly's takeover of the chamber the opposition has controlled since winning 2015 elections. More than 120 people have been killed in the unrest.
He has said the assembly will promote peace by bringing different sectors of society together to rewrite the constitution.
The Trump administration has sanctioned 30 government loyalists since April.More news: Changes to the National Security Council
Nicolas Maduro's government in Venezuela is increasingly isolated but it still counts powerful support from countries such as Russian Federation and China that can block or delay punitive action from the likes of the United Nations, analysts say.