Pompeo, Lavrov hold phone talks over Venezuela

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Pompeo noted that the presence of Russian military personnel in Venezuela "risks prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people," calling on Russia to cease "unconstructive behavior".

The Trump administration recognized Guaido as the nation's "interim president" on Jan. 23, days after Nicolas Maduro was inaugurated for a second term as Venezuela's president.

The United States has been pursuing a policy of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation against the Venezuelan government in support of the opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Moscow has condemned Washington's threats against the legitimate Venezuelan leadership, calling them "blatant interference" in Venezuela's internal affairs and a "flagrant violation" of international law.

WASHINGTON, March 25 (Xinhua) -- U.S. State Department said on Monday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov held a phone conversation over the situation in Venezuela.

"Washington's attempts to organize a coup in Venezuela and threats against its legitimate government are in violation of the UN Charter and undisguised interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state," Lavrov was quoted by a foreign ministry statement saying.

Two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela on March 23 carrying a Russian defense official and nearly 60 troops, reports said.

Pompeo told Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that "the United States and regional countries will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela," according to a State Department statement.

In response, Maduro severed "diplomatic and political" ties with the United States.