The hardline United States National Security Adviser John Bolton issued a warning to India against buying Venezuelan oil saying it “will not be forgotten” and was countered by Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Alberto Arreaza who said it was an attempt to impose Washington's global “dictatorship.”
Bolton tweeted on Tuesday morning, “Nations and firms that support (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro's theft of Venezuelan resources will not be forgotten,” and displayed with it a news story about Venezuelan Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo visiting India to sell more oil.
Bolton's tweet continued with the warning: “The United States will continue to use all of its powers to preserve the Venezuelan people's assets and we encourage all nations to work together to do the same.”
President Donald Trump's administration and its allies have recognised the opposition leader, National Assembly President Juan Guaido, as the Latin American nation's president and have called on Maduro to quit. The US does not consider that Maduro's government has the right to sell the country's oil -- and, hence, calls the oil exports "theft."
Reacting to Bolton at a news conference here, Arreaza, who represents Maduro, said, “What he (Bolton) is trying to do here is give orders. This is a dictatorship that they are trying to impose on the world. Unilateralism at its maximum expression.”
He asserted that because of Bolton's attitude “there was a rebellion against this, this dictatorship” at a meeting of the representatives of the Nonaligned Movement earlier Tuesday at the UN.
Bolton has made a similar threat against India buying oil from Iran when Trump placed a more stringent international trade embargo on Tehran last year after withdrawing from a nuclear disarmament agreement made with it and five other countries.
However, Trump gave India a temporary exemption from the embargo, which carried economic penalties for violations.
Facing an embargo on its oil exports by the US and most western countries, Venezuela is trying to increase sales to India and other countries.
Quevedo, who is in New Delhi to attend the Petrotech 2019 trade event, told reporters that his country wanted to double the current oil exports of 340,000 barrels per day to India. Venezuela is the third largest supplier of oil to India and Reliance Industries and Nayara Energy are its biggest customers.
Venezuela has the world's largest known reserves of oil estimated at more than 300 billion barrels – bigger than Saudi Arabia's 266 billion barrels.
India, which is wary of foreign interference in internal affairs, has refused to go along with the US and recognise Guaido as the president and stop dealing with Maduro's administration.
“India and Venezuela enjoy close and cordial relations,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said last month. “We are of the view that it is for the people of Venezuela to find political solutions to resolve their differences through constructive dialogue and discussion without resorting to violence.”