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Venezuela & North Korea – Top News this week

  1. Vice President Mike Pence travels to Colombia to press for change in Venezuela.
  2. U.S. President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un while U.S.  The Lima Group summit in BogotaThe Lima Group summit in Bogota

Feb. 25 (– U.S. Vice President Mike Pence travels to Colombia on Monday, Feb. 25 to meet with the Lima Group of regional leaders who recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela's leader. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro held elections last year that many leaders in the international community say were fraudulent.

The white House had announced that “while there, he will meet with Colombian President Ivan Duque, a proven leader on this issue, and other officials from the Western Hemisphere to define concrete steps that support the Venezuelan people and a transition to democracy." During the Lime Group meeting in Bogota, Pence talked about the efforts of the United States and its allies to deliver humanitarian assistance in Venezuela. He said it was time for the region to take a tougher stand in ousting Maduro, but he stopped short of calling for the use of force to oust a man he says represents a threat to the hemisphere. However, he asked the bloc of 14 largely Latin American countries to follow the U.S. lead. Some European envoys were also present at the meeting.

Guaidó, who addressed the Lima Group for the first time on Monday, declared that: “Today, the Maduro regime thinks that blocking humanitarian aid was a victory, they are dancing in Caracas on the graves of indigenous people,” Guaidó said. “They think that by normalizing the crisis they can hold on to power.” He added that the bloc needed to send a strong message.

The second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un takes place, this time in Vietnam. Kim Jong Un badly needs the sanctions on North Korea relaxed but in exchange he will have to make big concessions.

The Trump administration seeks a deal that would lead to a potential denuclearization of North Korea. The choice of venue has sparked debate, as Vietnam is now considered an ally of the United States while North Korea may still regard the Southeast Asian nation as a place that historically defeated the United States.

As recent reports have indicated, the increased policing of the East China Sea by a coalition of regional and Western forces has made the smuggling of fuel and other necessities increasingly costly for North Korea. The North Korean economy is still surviving, but barely. It's now humiliatingly dependent on a single foreign power, namely China for the bulk of its imports and foreign exchange earnings. Such a state of overdependence defeats the whole purpose of the country's "Juche doctrine" of self-reliance.