Aug. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said he wouldn't rule out the option of military intervention in Venezuela.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his New Jersey golf club on Friday, Trump said the United States has "many options" regarding Venezuela's political crisis.
"We have many options for Venezuela. And by the way, I am not going to rule out a military option," he said.
Trump reiterated the idea of possible military action by pointing out Venezuela's geographical proximity to the U.S.
"This is our neighbor," he said. "You know, we are all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering, and they are dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary."
The statement followed remarks by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who asked for a "personal conversation" with Trump about his interest in Venezuela's political state at the United Nations General Assembly in New York next month.
Venezuela's Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said on Twitter that Trump's comments are "the gravest and most insolent threat ever made against the fatherland of Bolivar."
Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said the Defense Department has not received orders to make military movements regarding Venezuela, but added it is prepared to do so if necessary.
Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino responded to Trump's talk of a potential military move by calling it a "crazy act."
"As Minister of Defense and as a citizen I say this is a crazy act, an act of supreme extremism," he said.
Padrino also went on to condemn Trump as an "extremist" and a threat to humanity.
"There is an extremist elite in the US government," he said. "And I really don't know what is happening and what will happen in the world. If humanity will end. If planet Earth will end."