Washington: US President Donald Trump has warned Venezuela that Washington would take "strong and swift" economic sanctions if President Nicolas Maduro proceeds with creating a National Constituent Assembly.
"The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles," Trump said in a statement on Monday.
Trump also referred to the unofficial referendum held on 16 July by the opposition in which 7.5 million people participated, saying that "the Venezuelan people again made clear that they stand for democracy, freedom, and rule of law", reports Efe news.
"Yet their strong and courageous actions continue to be ignored by a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator."
The US President also reiterated his call for "free and fair elections" and showed his support for Venezuelans "in their quest to restore their country to a full and prosperous democracy".
In June, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Trump government was preparing a "very robust list" of individuals in Venezuela to be sanctioned over human rights abuses.
According to media reports, the US is considering extending these sanctions to Venezuela's energy industry, including the state oil company PDVSA, a measure that has yet to be confirmed by the White House.
"Imperialism ... is threatening us that if the National Constituent Assembly is created, they are going to block Venezuela. Block Venezuela? Venezuela is not blocked by anyone, my friend," Maduro said last week in response to threats of sanctions from Washington.
Maduro added that Venezuela "is a free and sovereign country" and that his country will not "allow itself to be threatened or intimidated by any global empire".
Updated Date: Jul 18, 2017 16:17 PM