To Florida's Venezuelan exiles, Pence vows more pressure on Maduro

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The embattled Nicolas Maduro regime halted plans to ship 20 tons of Venezuelan gold overseas as a growing worldwide push to ring-fence the country's dwindling hard assets unnerved those handling the transaction, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

While marshaling worldwide support, Guaido is seeking to maintain street pressure against Maduro, and has called more mass protests for Saturday.

The United Nations has told Venezuela's Juan Guaido that it is willing to step up humanitarian aid to his country but requires consent from the government led by Nicolas Maduro, a spokesman said Thursday.

"We need a protective barrier in our country", Trump said.

The move heightened fears for the security of the 35-year-old National Assembly leader, who declared himself acting president last week in a bold challenge to Maduro's authority.

The Geneva-based organization is now in talks with the Venezuelan Ministry of Health to expand its budget in the South American country to at least $20 million.

The sighting of two Russian planes in Venezuela this week sparked rumors that Moscow was helping the Nicolas Maduro government ship gold reserves out of the country in an attempt to quickly raise cash.

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have left the country and flooded into neighbouring Colombia and Peru, where the influx has been causing problems accommodating them. Besides the United States, Venezuela sells its oil to buyers around the world, including India and Europe, and the country has been seeking buyers elsewhere to replace the roughly 500,000 barrels a day it sells to the United States.

US officials who have warned Maduro will face "serious consequences" if he harms Guaido denounced the incident as a disgraceful intimidation tactic.

Wirth also said Chevron's refining operations in the USA are well-prepared to handle an expected disruption of Venezuelan crude supply due to the sanctions.

Spokesmen for Russian President Vladimir Putin have been sharply critical of US policy, saying it amounts to a coup against Maduro.

Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio sent a tweet to the United Arab Emirates embassy in Washington on Thursday warning that anybody transporting Venezuelan gold would be subject to U.S. sanctions.

The United States has also rejected the offers from Mexico, Uruguay and the Vatican to mediate a dialogue.

"The use of sanctions by outside powers to overthrow an elected government is in violation of all norms of worldwide law", he said in a statement in Geneva.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton on Thursday said Maduro should accept Guaido's amnesty officer.

The group, which will include Britain, France, Germany, Bolivia and Ecuador, will end after 90 days if no progress is made and stands ready to consider more economic sanctions on Maduro's government.