Venezuela high court prevents opposition leader Guaido from leaving country

Several smaller protests were held throughout the capital Caracas including in the neighbourhood of Altamira in the eastern part of the city.

An office worker who only wanted to be identified as Adriana because she feared possible repercussions from Maduro's government arrived at a walkout with a sign that read, "You also have reasons" to protest.

In La Candelaria, in the centre of the city, protesters marched to the JM de los Rios Hospital, a paediatric centre. "We have contacts with them because we are concerned about things like the safety of Americans", Abrams told reporters.

Storchak said Venezuela owes Russian Federation $3 billion, with repayments twice a year of around $100 million, with the next due in March.

Tensions have risen in the country following a wave of fresh protests on Wednesday.

"We have long had contacts with people whom we have not granted diplomatic recognition in different countries around the world", he added.

"They have prepared a campaign to justify a coup d'etat in Venezuela that has been prepared, financed, and actively supported by Donald Trump's administration, as the public knows".

Inside Venezuela, Maduro holds the reins of power with the armed forces still loyal despite an opposition push to lure their support by proposing amnesty for anybody who supports Guaido's transitional government.

Mr Maduro, sworn in on January 10 for a second term after disputed elections a year ago, accuses Mr Guaido of staging a US-directed coup against him.

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The already distressed nation is likely to face even tougher times ahead after the US imposed sanctions Monday on Venezuela's state-owned oil company, potentially depriving the Maduro government of $11 billion in export revenues over the next year.

Guaido, who the U.S. State Department has determined to have authority over the nation's accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY and other U.S. -insured banks, has yet to respond to the call for negotiations. During Wednesday's interview with RIA, Maduro accused Trump of ordering his assassination, saying, "Donald Trump has without doubt given an order to kill me and has told the government of Colombia and the Colombian mafia to kill me".

"We're in conversation with major American companies now", he said.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met Guaido's designated envoy to the United States on Tuesday.

In an interview with Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti news agency, Maduro said he was "willing to sit down for talks with the opposition for the sake of Venezuela's peace and its future", an offer he has repeated often but that the opposition is reluctant to accept.

The action, imposed by Venezuela's Supreme Court, intensifies a struggle for power in the South American republic.

Others, including retired bricklayer Aldres Romero blame the opposition for the political crisis. Many global observers say that his 2018 reelection - which was boycotted by the opposition - was a sham. "I consider myself yet another soldier at the service of the people and the Revolution", Maduro wrote on Twitter.

"Most modern arms supplies will reach Vene-zuela", he said, adding such supplies were arriving "every month".

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