(dql) Amid progressing trade talks, widely believed to lead soon to a deal to end the Chinese-US trade dispute [New York Times], diplomatic tensions between Beijing and Washington have increased over Venezuela. China, Venezuela’s main creditor, on Monday criticized US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for accusing Beijing of prolonging the crisis in Venezuela by funding the Maduro government, and denounced his remarks as ‘lies.’ [ABC News] [The Guardian]

China echoed positions of Iran and Russia. Both countries defended their support of Maduro and denounced US interference in Venezuela. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Washington of “openly meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign countries” and further stressed that Washington’s “regime-change blitz has failed. But the Americans are not giving up their aim to topple the legitimate president.” Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson insisted that “[w]hile Iranian specialists are trying to improve the water and electricity systems in Venezuela at the request of the government of Caracas, the U.S. has looted $30 billion worth of Venezuela’s foreign exchange reserves. The U.S. move is blatant and arrogant interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs and is strongly condemned.” [Newsweek]

Meanwhile, CNN cites a US defense source according to which the Pentagon is developing new military options for Venezuela aimed at deterring Russian, Cuban and Chinese influence inside Maduros’ regime. The options under consideration, however, would stop short of any kinetic military actions. The news come after Pompeo, speaking in Paraguay last week, reiterated that the USA will “keep all options on the table because it’s very important, in that we don’t know how things will proceed.” [CNN]