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Maduro asks Obama to take back calling Venezuela a national security threat

By Andrew V. Pestano
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, seen here alongside his wife during a rally, has called on U.S. President Barack Obama to repeal an executive order he signed calling Venezuela's situation a "threat" to the United States. Maduro on Sunday said the decree is "an atrocity that I hope Barack Obama corrects before he leaves office." Photo courtesy Prensa Presidencial
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, seen here alongside his wife during a rally, has called on U.S. President Barack Obama to repeal an executive order he signed calling Venezuela's situation a "threat" to the United States. Maduro on Sunday said the decree is "an atrocity that I hope Barack Obama corrects before he leaves office." Photo courtesy Prensa Presidencial

CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called on U.S. President Barack Obama to revoke a decree in which he called the South American country's situation a "threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

During his weekly television program Sunday, Maduro said Venezuela will once again formally petition Obama to repeal the decree. Maduro said he will bring up the matter with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

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"President Obama, you can win the admiration of the people of Venezuela if you have the courage to sign a decree repealing that infamous decree that says our beloved homeland Venezuela is a threat to the United States," Maduro said.

In March 2015, Obama signed an executive order declaring a national emergency to protect human rights and democratic institutions in Venezuela and to protect the U.S. financial system from illicit capital flows from the country. The executive order also imposed sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials.

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Maduro said the decree, which was extended in March, is "an atrocity that I hope Barack Obama corrects before he leaves office." Venezuela is facing an ongoing economic and political crisis under Maduro's leadership.

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In September, Kerry and Maduro met in Colombia. Though the officials did not reveal what they discussed, Kerry said that the Obama administration is "deeply concerned about events in Venezuela," but added that, "We want to be constructive. We are not looking for conflict."

In a positive note between U.S. and Venezuelan relations, Obama sent Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. to Caracas earlier this month to aid in mediation efforts during negotiations between Maduro's regime and the opposition.

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"Ambassador Shannon will meet with senior government officials, members of the political opposition, and representatives of civil society," the U.S. Department of State said in a statement. "His visit will underscore our support for the ongoing dialogue process, and our interest in the well-being of the Venezuelan people."

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