The White House announced on Wednesday that President Trump will meet with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
The meeting would be “an opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the U.S. to the people of Venezuela and to discuss how we can work with President Guaidó to expedite a democratic transition in Venezuela,” the White House said in a statement.
On Tuesday evening Guaidó attended the State of the Union address as a guest of President Trump.
“Here this evening, is a very brave man, who carries with him the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all Venezuelans,” Trump said of Guaidó, calling him Venezuela’s “true and legitimate president.” The Venezuelan politician received a standing ovation by U.S. lawmakers.
Venezuelan opposition figures and international observers have accused disputed ruler Nicolás Maduro of rigging the election against Guaidó. Maduro, the strongman successor to socialist president Hugo Chaves, has presided over a collapse in Venezuela’s economy since taking office in 2013.
Large areas of the country have suffered from blackouts and shortages of basic food and medical supplies.
Maduro retains the support of allies Russia and China, and has control over Venezuela’s military. On April 30 Guaidó offered soldiers amnesty if they would defect to the opposition, but the army remained loyal to Maduro.
During his address, Trump called Maduro “an illegitimate ruler, a tyrant who brutalizes his people. But Maduro’s grip on tyranny will be smashed and broken.” Maduro has responded to Guaidó’s challenge by deeming him a “puppet” of the West.