Pompeo prioritizes Venezuela crisis on Latin American tour

Pompeo prioritizes Venezuela crisis on Latin American tour
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, listens to Paraguay's President Mario Abdo Benitez, during official meeting at "Palacio de Lopez", in Asuncion, Paraguay, Saturday, April 13, 2019. Pompeo is in the second of four countries' tour that includes Chile, Peru and Colombia to address, mainly, the crisis in Venezuela. On the wall is a paint of National Hero Marshal Francisco Solano Lopez. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is making the economic and political crisis in Venezuela a central theme of his four-day Latin America tour.

Paraguayan Foreign Minister Luis Castiglioni said Saturday that a meeting between Pompeo and President Mario Abdo Benítez focused on the strengthening of democracy in the region, the Venezuelan crisis, respect for human rights and combating transnational crime.

Benítez said on Twitter that the two leaders also spoke about consolidating ties between both countries.

“We are gathered to talk about the consolidation of an increasingly solid relationship,” he wrote.

On Friday, Pompeo met with Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera in the Chilean capital of Santiago, where he said China’s financing of the Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro was prolonging the country’s crisis.

Pompeo is expected to travel to Peru later Saturday before making a final stop in the Colombian border town of Cucuta on Sunday to meet with representatives of Venezuelan refugees.

Maduro has said that the U.S. is looking for a pretext to militarily invade the country.