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Tillerson: US Considering Oil Sanctions on Venezuela

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, and Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie give a news conference at the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb. 4, 2018.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sat with Argentine President Mauricio Marci for a closed door meeting Monday, on the second day of his five-nation tour of South America.

Meeting in an elegant compound in the northern suburbs of Buenos Aires, Tillerson and Marci shook hands in the reception area before entering the meeting.

On Sunday, Tillerson said that during his meeting with the country's leaders, he had raised the possibility of oil sanctions against Venezuela as a way ensure "free, fair, and verifiable elections'' in the country.

But Tillerson also said that he wants to find ways to mitigate the negative affect sanctions would have on U.S. oil companies, Venezuelans, and other regional countries that rely on Venezuelan oil.

"The situation is becoming quite dire in Venezuela, so one of the aspects of considering sanctioning oil is what effect would it have on the Venezuelan people, and is it a step that might bring this to an end, to a more rapid end,'' Tillerson said.

Venezuela is the United States' third-largest oil supplier. The U.S. oil industry says a ban on petroleum imports from Venezuela would hurt U.S. jobs and drive up gasoline costs.

Later Monday, Tillerson will travel to the Peruvian capital, Lima, before heading to Colombia on Tuesday.

Nike Ching contributed to this report.