Washington, Mar 14 (EFE).- The United States said Monday it has no plans in the works to import oil from leftist-led and sanctions-hit Venezuela.
“It’s not an active conversation at this time,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in response to a question from a reporter at her daily press conference.
Psaki poured cold water on the idea of the US’s easing sanctions on Venezuela and allowing crude imports from that oil-rich but crisis-racked country nine days after representatives of the White House and the State Department visited the South American country.
The possibility of sanctions being relaxed on Venezuela, a country whose government the US says has remained in power through rigged elections, sparked criticism from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
Colombia, a close regional ally of the US and an ideological foe of Venezuela, said for its part that it has spoken with American officials and offered to supply additional crude at a time when high oil and gasoline prices are affecting consumers in the US and other countries.
Psaki confirmed Monday that President Joe Biden had spoken with Colombian counterpart Ivan Duque about that matter following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But she said only that the US is continuing to talk with a number of oil producers about the importance of maintaining global supplies.
Asked if the US government was weighing the possibility of granting US energy giant Chevron Corp. a special license for expanding its role in joint ventures with Venezuela’s state oil company, a step toward boosting Venezuelan crude output and exports, Psaki said there are no immediate plans for such a move.
The March 5 trip in which a high-level US delegation met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro constituted the most senior visit by US officials to Caracas in more than two decades, according to the White House.
That visit came just over a week after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a close ally of Venezuela’s, and amid speculation that Biden is considering resuming imports of Venezuelan oil – banned under his predecessor, Donald Trump – in a bid to bring down gasoline prices.
The White House has not denied that the topic came up during the meeting, but it has downplayed the possibility of a policy shift since receiving criticism from prominent members of Congress such as Cuban-American Bob Menendez, a Democratic senator from New Jersey.
The US has said the main topic of conversation with Maduro was the situation of 10 US prisoners in Venezuela, two of whom were released shortly after the visit. EFE