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U.S. ready to wage war on Venezuela: Venezuelan FM

CARACAS, March 11 (Xinhua) -- The United States is laying a legal groundwork to wage a war against Venezuela and other countries in the world, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez warned Wednesday.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking congressional approval to attack any country that "doesn't serve its interests," Rodriguez said in a televised interview.

At a hearing in the U.S. Senate Wednesday, the White House asked lawmakers to grant extensive powers to fight the Islamic State anywhere in the world, which, according to the minister, "leaves the door open" to a military campaign in Venezuela.

"The United States is preparing to declare war on all countries because requesting authorization to use military force without a geographic restriction means they can invade any country," said Rodriguez.

She also called on Venezuelans to prepare for a U.S. embargo, similar to the one Washington imposed on Cuba for more than 50 years, against Venezuela's trade, finance, and economy.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Wednesday called on the country to unite to prepare for any U.S. aggression, and asked parliament to grant him the right to rule by decree for six months, so his government can quickly react to any threats. Other top officials echoed his call.

Earlier this week, the United States stepped up its sanctions against the country's socialist government.

On Monday, U.S. President Obama issued an executive order to impose additional sanctions on Venezuelan officials over human rights abuses and corruption.

The order also declared a "state of emergency" as the situation in Venezuela constituted, according to Obama, "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

In a nationwide televised address on Monday night, Maduro said the U.S. president had taken "the most aggressive" step against his country.

However, U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson tweeted Wednesday that the goal of these sanctions is to persuade the Venezuelan government to change its ways, "not to remove that government."

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