USA senators urge Trump not to block oil supplies from Venezuela

David Smolansky mayor of El Hatillo in Caracas was sentenced to 15 months in prison by the supreme court this week

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said Thursday he wants a meeting with President Donald Trump - the same man he ridicules as a crass imperial magnate and blasts for U.S. sanctions against officials in his socialist administration.

"To all the presidents, I call on them to approve a meeting and through mutual dialogue, we can find a solution", said Maduro.

Nine U.S. companies including Chevron (CVX +0.1%), Valero Energy (VLO -1.4%) and Phillips 66 (PSX -0.6%) now process Venezuelan crude in more than 20 U.S. refineries, many of them designed for the type of heavy crude that Venezuela exports, and replacing those supplies would be disruptive and costly.

"If he (Trump) is so interested in Venezuela, here I am", he said in his three-hour address to the 545 member assembly. "Mister Donald Trump، here is my hand،" he said.

The US Treasury Department has sanctioned Adan Coromoto Chavez Frias, brother of the late Socialist leader Hugo Chavez, as well as five fellow members of Venezuela's freshly installed constituent assembly, a National Electoral Council official and the Federal Legislative Palace's security chief.

But Maduro struck a defiant stance against what he called America's "imperialist aggression", accusing Washington of being involved in an attack on an army base last weekend by uniformed rebels led by two renegade Venezuelan officers.

Moscow and Caracas are also in talks for a separate oil deal that would allow Russian Federation to evade potential complications from us sanctions, Reuters reported in July.

And the Supreme Court has ordered the jailing of an opposition mayor who allowed anti-government protests to happen in his Caracas district, and has announced possible cases against other dissident municipal leaders.

Venezuela's new Assembly declares itself superior to all other government bodies
They expressed support for renewed negotiations between the government and opposition, though previous talks have failed. On Monday, Maradona made a post on Facebook saying "We are Chavistas to the death".

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Maduro convoked the constitutional assembly in what he contends is an attempt to resolve the nation's political standoff, but opposition leaders insist it is a power grab.

"It's entirely conceivable that, if the Constituyente generates further chaos and repression, the Maduro government could lose even more friends", says Shifter.

The Maduro regime is under increasing economic and diplomatic pressure as the political crisis in Venezuela gets worse.

The remarks came shortly after Mr Maduro forcefully warned Mr Trump that Venezuela "will never give in".

Since April 1, more than 120 people have been killed in protest's against Maduro's government.

Laws passed by the new body will not need approval from Venezuela's traditional congress, which met on Wednesday to discuss the region's response to the new body.

WATCH Inside Story: Venezuela: New beginnings or more of the same?

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