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Hawkish GOP veteran convicted during Iran-Contra affair picked to run Trump's Venezuela policy

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has named a hawkish former Republican official to handle US 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, known as a hawk on Latin America, served in top White House and State Department jobs under all Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan.

As assistant secretary of state for human rights during the Reagan administration, Abrams pushed for military aid to the regime of Guatemalan Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, a dictator who was later convicted of genocide and crime against humanity.

Abrams also played a role in the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration.

He was convicted of withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra investigation but later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.

Abrams also reportedly supported the attempted coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002, when Abrams was a member of the National Security Council of President George W. Bush.

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.

[Source: Business Insider, Ap, Washington, 26Jan19]

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