Maduro presidential rival Juan Guaidó claims he has held secret meetings with military, which hold key to power

Britain’s foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is expected to urge EU nations to impose sanctions on members of Nicolás Maduro’s inner circle in Venezuelaas pressure mounts on the president.

Hunt is expected to use an informal summit in Romania to make the call, which comes after his rival to the presidency, Juan Guaidó, claimed in a New York Times opinion piece ($) that he had held “clandestine” meetings with the military.

He wrote: “The military’s withdrawal of support from Mr Maduro is crucial to enabling a change in government, and the majority of those in service agree that the country’s recent travails are untenable.”

Maduro has accused Donald Trump and a “group of extremists around him” of plotting to topple him in order to seize Venezuela’s oil, and warned he risked transforming the South American country into a new Vietnam.

In a four-minute Facebook video – published as Venezuela prepared on Wednesday for a day of fresh pro-opposition protests – Maduro said the leaders of the US “empire” were conspiring “to get their hands on our oil – just like they did in Iraq and in Libya”.

Unable to accuse Venezuela’s government of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, they were instead waging a media campaign of fake news to justify intervening in a country that boasts the world’s biggest crude reserves, Maduro said.

“We will not allow a Vietnam in Latin America. If the US intends to intervene against us they will get a Vietnam worse than they could have imagined. We do not allow violence. We are a peaceful people,” Venezuela’s embattled leftist leader added.

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