Turkey is failing to heed US requests to halt its support for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Latin American nation has warned, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.
Elliott Abrams told reporters on Thursday that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish president, was “strongly supporting the Maduro regime” and that US officials had “not had the cooperation from Turkey that we want.”
Trump in January threw his weight behind Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, leading an international drive to recognize him as the country’s interim president.
Washington has been increasing its economic pressure on the Maduro government, issuing sanctions against its key financial supporters and cutting off the flow of foreign currency to state-owned oil company PDVSA.
Erdoğan, however, has emerged along with Russia and China as an important ally for Maduro. The Turkish president has urged his Venezuelan counterpart to “stand up tall” and has described the US efforts to force him from power as a “coup attempt.”
Erdoğan’s stance on Venezuela has become a new flashpoint in the already strained relationship between Ankara and Washington, with Turkey’s imports of Venezuelan gold a particular source of concern. US officials have claimed that the country imported 20 tons of the precious metal from the South American nation last year, worth almost $1billion.
Abrams said that Washington had asked Ankara to halt that process.
“Whether it’s gold or anything else of value, we inquire and we ask the government in question to stop it,” he said. “We have not had the cooperation from Turkey that we want. Turkey is undermining its own position, not only in Venezuela but all of Latin America . . . .”
Abrams would not comment on the possible consequences for Turkey of failing to comply with US demands.