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Pompeo praises Paraguay's return to democracy in rare visit

AFP  |  Asuncion 

US held talks Saturday with Paraguay's as part of a four-nation tour of Latin American allies focusing heavily on and countering China's economic reach.

-- the first US to visit the former dictatorship since 1965 -- paid tribute to the country's transition to democracy as an inspiration to the region.

arrived in late Friday after talks with Chile's in that focused heavily on his country's developing trade relationship with

The tour will also take in stops in and

In Asuncion, Pompeo praised Paraguay's support for US-backed opposition in Venezuela, and its role in the Group of mostly Latin American nations seeking a solution to the crisis.

"is a in defending democracy and calling Maduro as he is, a tyrant who has ruined his country," Pompeo said.

said Paraguay's position on remained strongly aligned with that of the

"We have always said: with dictators, with tyrants, there is no dialogue. You fight them. We must fight them until liberties are restored so that the Venezuelan people can return to live with dignity," he told reporters.

Asked by a US if would back a military intervention in Venezuela, he said: "We are convinced that all the diplomatic efforts that are being made to isolate this regime will have results in a short time." was ruled by dictator from 1954 to 1989.

The two officials also discussed Paraguay's commitments on combatting threats of terrorism, drug trafficking and transnational crime in what is known as the tri-border area, the border region Paraguay shares with and

"Paraguay has declared all-out war against transnational crime," said Castiglioni.

"This battle that we are fighting is a battle of no return until we win. We have assured the that Paraguay wants to cooperate very closely with the US government, since we are on the same path."

Pompeo flew out of bound for Lima, after meeting officials at the

He was to hold talks in with Peru's and

The highlight of Pompeo's trip will be a brief visit Sunday to the Colombian city of on the Venezuelan border, where he will meet refugees.

All four on his itinerary are led by right wing or centre-right leaders favourable to Washington's uncompromising approach to Maduro.

The US said before his arrival in on Friday that the current had "spent a lot of time" in seeking to improve trade in a region which has turned its back in recent years on a slew of leftist governments.

"This is an historic opportunity," he told reporters, referring to "a handful of that are truly market driven, democratic in ways that we haven't had in for decades. And we think it creates real opportunity."

Asked about China's influence at a press conference following a working lunch with his Chilean counterpart Roberto Ampuero, Pompeo said: "I think the and the government both share the same concerns."

"China's trade activities often are deeply connected to their national security mission, their technological goals, their desire to steal intellectual property, to have forced technology transfer, to engage in activity that is not economic," he said.

Pompeo also blasted China's continuing support of Maduro's regime in Venezuela, which he said is prolonging the crisis.

Pinera is due to embark on a visit to next week.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, April 13 2019. 22:30 IST