Pompeo: Corbyn 'support' for Venezuelan regime 'disgusting'
8 May 2019, 15:00 | Updated: 9 May 2019, 10:12
The US secretary of state has told Sky News that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's apparent support for Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro is "disgusting".
Mike Pompeo earlier made the same damning statement during a news conference in London with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, where they also addressed the controversy surrounding the Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Unlike the UK government, Labour has refused to condemn Mr Maduro and his regime.
In February, Mr Corbyn said Venezuela's future was a matter for its citizens and criticised calls for sanctions.
A Labour spokesman reiterated that position on Wednesday, saying: "We oppose outside interference in Venezuela, whether from the US or anywhere else: the future of Venezuela is a matter for Venezuelans."
After being asked about Mr Corbyn's apparent backing for Mr Maduro, Mr Pompeo told reporters: "It is disgusting to see leaders, not only in the United Kingdom but in the United States as well, who continue to support the murderous dictator Maduro.
"No leader from a country with Western democratic values ought to stand behind them."
The top US diplomat added that the Venezuelan regime had caused "so much devastation, so much destruction", described opposition politician Juan Guaido as the "duly elected leader there" and claimed Mr Maduro was "on borrowed time".
Speaking to Sky News' Adam Boulton, he said Mr Maduro had "for years systemically looted Venezuela and caused women to not be able to feed their babies and to provide medical care for their children".
He added: "The medicine sits on their very border, the food sits on their very border. The European Union and American taxpayers were incredibly gracious."
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Regarding Labour's rejection of "interference" in Venezuela, Mr Pompeo said that "providing food to starving children isn't interference. It's support - it's what we do, it's in our deepest traditions of humanitarian assistance".
He also said that "interference has taken place - the Cubans are there. They've interfered. So I hope Mr Corbyn will ask the Cubans to cease their interference in Venezuela".
Last week, Mr Pompeo said the US was prepared to take military action to stem the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela.
"Military action is possible. If that's what's required, that's what the United States will do," he told Fox Business Network, but added that America would prefer a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela.
Mr Hunt said that "three million people have fled (Venezuela), GDP has gone down by 40% in the last four years, people can't access basic medicine, people are rifling through rubbish bags to get food in the streets".
The foreign secretary added: "(Shadow chancellor) John McDonnell describes this as socialism in action and I think people need to draw their own conclusions about what his own plans might be for the UK."
During a speech in London, Mr Pompeo also said he was "troubled by the anti-Semitism that's emerging again in our society and in yours".
He added that "anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism".
Adding further detail during his interview with Sky News, he said: "It's not anti-Zionism to critique an Israeli policy set.
"It is anti-Zionism to take positions which ultimately undermine the democracy that exists there in Israel and the human rights of those Israeli people."
The possible involvement of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Britain's 5G network was also discussed.
Former defence secretary Gavin Williamson was sacked after an inquiry found "compelling evidence" that he leaked information from the National Security Council over the apparent plans - something he denies.
It is claimed that Huawei is very close to the Chinese state.
Asked about the controversy, Mr Pompeo said he had "great confidence that the United Kingdom will never take an action that will break the special relationship".
During the interview with Sky News, he added that the US did not "believe you can have that (Huawei) technology in your systems and still have a trusted network", adding that the "United States will only participate in trusted networks".
Mr Hunt said that a final decision had not been taken and that the evidence was being considered "very carefully".
He added: "But we would never take a decision that compromised our ability to share intelligence with our Five Eyes colleagues, in particular with the United States.
"We are absolutely clear that the security relationship that we have with the United States is what has underpinned the international order since 1945 and has led to unparalleled peace and prosperity, and the preservation of that is our number one foreign policy priority."
(c) Sky News 2019: Pompeo: Corbyn 'support' for Venezuelan regime 'disgusting'