By Luc Cohen
CARACAS (Reuters) – The White House in Washington said on Wednesday it will welcome Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to visit U.S. President Donald Trump, the day after Trump used a national address to support Guaido’s effort to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
“The visit is an opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to the people of Venezuela and to discuss how we can work with President Guaido to expedite a democratic transition in Venezuela that will end the ongoing crisis,” a statement said.
It called Maduro’s government an “illegitimate dictatorship” and pledged to “stand alongside the Venezuelan people to ensure a future that is democratic and prosperous.”
Guaido, president of the opposition-held National Assembly, is recognized as Venezuela’s rightful president by dozens of countries including the United States. For nearly three weeks, he has been on an international tour aimed at drumming up support.
Guaido was a guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union address, when Trump, a Republican, praised him as a “very brave man who carries with him the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all Venezuelans.” Guaido received a standing ovation from U.S. Congress members of both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Maduro has overseen an economic collapse in the once-prosperous OPEC nation, and has been accused of corruption and human rights violations. He calls Guaido a U.S. puppet seeking to oust him in a coup.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen and Sarah Kinosian in Caracas; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)