U.S. to pledge over $171 million in aid for Venezuela -US official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States plans to pledge over $171 million in funding for Venezuela at a donor conference on Friday in Brussels, a U.S. official told Reuters, as the country’s opposition awaits U.S. moves to process frozen Venezuelan government funds.

The pledge is expected to come at a European Union-backed conference focused on building solidarity with Venezuelan refugees and migrants.

The U.S. official did not provide details on the funding, which builds on a further $376 million in funding Washington pledged last year.

Washington backs Venezuela’s opposition, recognizing its parallel legislature and decrying what it says is President Nicolas Maduro’s dictatorship.

Under the administration of former President Donald Trump, the United States intensified its sanctions against the South American country. It froze and seized Venezuelan government funds at the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of New York and then used the funds to support opposition lawmakers who oppose Maduro.

The country’s opposition has complained that the U.S. clearance process needed to replace its previous point person for distribution of funds, the ousted leader Juan Guaido, is stretching on. They say the funds will also help humanitarian efforts.

Maduro’s government opposes what it says is U.S. foreign interference in its politics and has said the opposition stole funds that belong to the people that could be used for social and medical support.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Susan Heavey and Mark Porter)

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