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Trump Says He Would Only Meet Maduro to Discuss His Departure

FILE - President Donald Trump checks his phone during a roundtable discussion in the State Dining Room of the White House, in Washington, June 18, 2020.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that he would only meet with Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro to discuss his departure from power, after an interview in which he suggested otherwise.

Axios published an interview with Trump in which he said he would be open to meeting with Maduro and appeared to waver in his support for opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom the U.S. and a number of other countries had formally recognized as interim president after contested elections in 2018.

"I would maybe think about that ... Maduro would like to meet. And I’m never opposed to meetings," Trump told Axios. "But at this moment, I’ve turned them down."

But on Monday Trump tweeted “My Admin has always stood on the side of FREEDOM and LIBERTY and against the oppressive Maduro regime!”

“I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!” the tweet continued.

Guaido met with Trump in February as a guest for the State of the Union address in an attempt to rekindle his campaign to depose Maduro. In a statement about his visit, the White House said it would continue to work to “confront the illegitimate dictatorship” in Venezuela.

The United States and other countries blame Maduro's socialist policies for a political and economic crisis threatening regional stability, while recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate interim leader.