Venezuela's Maduro wants 'personal conversation' with Trump

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Media caption, Nicolás Maduro on the BBC: "What would the Queen, my friend, say?"

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has said he wants a face-to-face meeting with US President Donald Trump.

He told the newly elected constituent assembly that he wanted "a personal conversation" when the two leaders attended the UN General Assembly in New York next month.

Mr Trump recently imposed sanctions on Mr Maduro, accusing him of undermining democracy.

The White House has not yet responded to the comments.

"If he's so interested in Venezuela, here I am," Mr Maduro told the assembly during a three-hour speech.

"Mr Donald Trump, here is my hand."

However, at other times Mr Maduro returned to more traditional anti-US themes, accusing "imperialists" of plotting against his government.

"We will never cede to foreign powers," he said.

Mr Maduro also said he would challenge the US sanctions in an American court.

The president received a succession of standing ovations from the constituent assembly, which is dominated by his supporters.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption, Anti-government protests have become a daily feature in Caracas

The opposition-controlled congress rejects the legitimacy of the new body.

It has also been condemned by international leaders and by the Pope, who urged Mr Maduro not to inaugurate it.

In his speech, Mr Maduro stated that the constituent assembly had authority over all branches of government, including the presidency.

He has said the assembly will promote peace by bringing different sectors of society together to rewrite the constitution.

His critics, however, see it as a way for the president to expand his power and sideline the opposition.

More than 120 people have been killed in violent anti-government protests since April.

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