The Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for the support of Pope Francis against a 'military threat' from the US, as international pressure mounts over the deadly political crisis in Caracas.
At a press conference yesterday, Maduro said: 'May the Pope help us prevent [US President Donald] Trump from sending troops to invade Venezuela...I ask for the Pope's help against the military threat from the United States.'
The embattled Venezuelan leader, who was elected in 2013, has faced months of mass protests by opponents who blame him for an economic crisis and are demanding elections.
Meanwhile, international pressure has grown, with Trump even saying earlier this month that the US reserved the option of military intervention, and the US applying economic sanctions directly targeting Maduro.
According to AFP, Maduro pointedly highlighted his alliance with Russia, which had rejected Trump's recent threat as 'unacceptable'.
He reportedly said that he wanted to 'keep strengthening the military cooperation agreement' between the two countries 'for the sovereign defence of Venezuela'.
Russia has recently sold fighter jets and ground-to-air missiles to Venezuela.
'Venezuela has the full and absolute support of Russia,' declared Maduro, adding that he would soon go to Moscow to meet with the Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Following Trump's controversial threat, Maduro has called for military drills next weekend as a show of strength.
He has claimed that the country's economic collapse is a US-backed conspiracy, but the opposition blames his economic management for the crisis.
Venezuela is the third-biggest seller of oil to the US, which is the destination for 42 per cent of the South American country's crude exports, AFP reported.
The fall in world prices for its oil exports has left Venezuela short of dollars for imports of food and medicine.
Last year, Christian Today reported on how Pope Francis could play a role in mediating in the Venezuelan crisis.