Attorney general seeks to bar Guaido from leaving Venezuela, freeze his assets

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The United States on Monday announced sanctions against Venezuela's state oil company, further trying to squeeze Maduro's cash-strapped government.

Guaido said in an interview with CNN in Spanish on Monday that Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress had approved a measure asking foreign nations to ensure the country's assets aren't "looted" by Maduro.

Some 75 per cent of the country's cash-generating oil shipments go the U.S., according to Barclays, but Mr Maduro retains the support of Russia, China, Turkey and Iran and is likely to divert shipments to them.

But the PDVSA could avoid the sanctions - by recognising Guaido as Venezuela's leader. And US intervention is not something they want.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions could be avoided if Mr Guaido is given full power.

"The path to sanctions relief for PDVSA is through the expeditious transfer of control to the interim president or a subsequent, democratically elected government".

Meanwhile, the Treasury has been issuing general licenses that authorize certain transactions and activities related to PDVSA and its subsidiaries within specified timeframes.

The U.S. government's decision to impose sweeping sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company appears to be, in essence, a ban on selling the country's crude to the U.S - and potentially across the world.

Venezuela is very reliant on the U.S. for its oil revenue, sending 41 percent of its oil exports to the U.S. Maduro could however divert the roughly 500,000 barrels per day of oil now being sold to Gulf Coast refineries to markets in Russia, China, India, Malaysia, and Thailand. However, so far, Mr Maduro has retained the backing of the powerful armed forces, as well as support from Russian Federation and China. Guaido is the leader of the country's National Assembly, and declared himself the interim president of Venezuela last week. "Valero will continue to support the administration and will provide officials with relevant information that will help the USA refining system to function efficiently and effectively" a spokeswoman said Monday.

Without a source of revenue or control of the military, he faces hard odds in assuming leadership of the country, despite support across most of the Western Hemisphere.

Guaido has been recognized as the nation's rightful leader by two dozen nations that contend the re-election of socialist President Nicolas Maduro was a sham, in part because his strongest opponents were barred from running. This comes amid a US-backed coup attempt in their country.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said historical experience showed foreign interference "only makes situations more complicated".

China maintains that all countries should adhere to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, especially the norms of worldwide relations and global law, such as non-interference in each other's internal affairs, mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and refraining from the threat of force, spokesperson Hua Chunying told a press briefing.

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