Venezuela accuses US of 'economic terrorism' over assets freeze

AFP , Tuesday 6 Aug 2019

The UN voiced concern Tuesday over a law approved by Italy's parliament that imposes stiffer penalties on NGO migrant rescue boats in the Mediterranean, demanding humanitarian work "not be criminalised or stigmatised."

The European Union also said it planned to "analyse" the legislation's consistency with European law.

The text adopted by Italian lawmakers gives far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini more authority to block ships carrying rescued migrants from entering Italian waters.

NGO boats involved in search and rescue operations can be confiscated and captains fined up to one million euros ($1.1 million), according to the text which still must be signed by Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

"Imposing financial or other penalties on shipmasters could deter or impede sea rescue activities by private vessels at a time when European states have largely withdrawn from rescue efforts in the Central Mediterranean," the UN refugee agency said in a statement.

Venezuela's government on Tuesday accused the United States of trying to derail political crisis resolution talks with the opposition after President Donald Trump ordered a freeze on its US-based assets.

The regime of President Nicolas Maduro, in a foreign ministry statement, denounced the US move as "another serious aggression by the Trump administration through arbitrary economic terrorism against the Venezuelan people."

Representatives of Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido are involved in "continuous" negotiations mediated by Norway.

The first round of talks were in Oslo in May and three further rounds have taken place in Barbados.

Caracas said these latest measures showed that Washington and its allies are "committed to the failure of the political dialogue" because "they fear the results and benefits."

However, the government insisted that it "won't allow this biased escalation of aggressions" to affect the talks

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