1. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State
"Elliott Abrams is coming aboard to lead our efforts on Venezuela. His critical work will get started right away. Tomorrow he'll travel with me to the U.N. Security Council where the United States has called a long overdue meeting to urge other nations to support Venezuela's democratic transition.
2. SOUNDBITE: (English) Elliott Abrams, Will Handle U.S.-Venezuela Policy
"I left this building 30 years ago this week. Last time I worked here. So it's very nice to be back. This crisis in Venezuela is deep and difficult and dangerous and I can't wait to get to work on it."
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State
"There's been no activity that's taken more of our time over the past days than ensuring the protection of all those folks that are under our chief of mission authority there in Venezuela. We're working diligently to make sure that they're protected. there's no higher priority for the secretary of state and you should know no higher port higher priority for the president the United States. We've discussed this at some length."
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State
"We've made clear to everyone that it is our expectation that won't that theU.S. officials there there that have now been invited to be there by interim President one go you know have a right to have the privileges and immunities that accrue to having been invited to be there by the duly duly credentialed leader of Venezuela. And we have every expectation that those rights will continue to be protected."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has named a hawkish former Republican official to handle U.S. policy toward Venezuela.
The appointment of Elliot Abrams follows the Trump administration's decision this week to recognize the leader of Venezuela's parliament as the country's legitimate leader and call for President Nicolas Maduro to step down. Abrams served in top White House and State Department jobs under all Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan.
He was considered for deputy secretary of state after President Donald Trump's election but was reportedly rejected over alleged criticism he made of Trump.
In his previous government roles, Abrams was known as a hawk on Latin America and played a role in the Iran-Contra affair. He was convicted of withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra investigation but later pardoned.
Pompeo also said the U.S. is "taking all appropriate actions" to make sure that U.S. diplomats in Venezuela are protected.
Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader who has declared himself interim president has vowed that he would remain on the streets until Venezuela has a transitional government, while President Nicolas Maduro has dug in and accused his opponents of orchestrating a coup.
On Wednesday, Maduro gave U.S. diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.
Hours later, Guaido contradicted that order and urged all embassy workers to stay.
Washington said it would defy Maduro by keeping the embassy open but ordered all non-essential staff to leave.