Saturday July 4th, 2020 8:45PM

The Latest: Russia's Lavrov says US claims are 'untrue'

By The Associated Press
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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

10:55 a.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has characterized a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the crisis in Venezuela as having elements of the surreal.

Lavrov made his comments Thursday in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, a day after he spoke with Pompeo about protests against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

"Pompeo phoned, called for us to refuse to support Maduro, called for Cuba and us not to interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela. The whole story sounds quite surreal," Lavrov said.

"If you count up all that official representatives of the American administration say about Venezuela, then you can pose questions endlessly and to all these questions the answer will be, to put it diplomatically: it's untrue," he said.

Pompeo claimed earlier that Maduro was ready to flee the South American country, but that unspecified Russians persuaded him to stay.

___

9:40 a.m.

Spain's acting foreign minister says a Venezuelan anti-government activist has not asked Spanish authorities for political asylum.

Josep Borrell, who is foreign minister in Spain's caretaker government, says Leopoldo López is staying as a guest at the Spanish embassy in Caracas.

Borrell says Thursday that, under Spanish law, requests for asylum can be made only in Spain.

He tells Spanish media during an official trip to Jordan that López is staying at the embassy until his next steps become clearer.

López was detained in 2014 for leading protests against President Nicolás Maduro's rule and placed under house arrest before appearing in public on Tuesday.

Spain has in recent years become a destination for thousands of Venezuelans escaping the country's political and economic crisis.

___

9:30 a.m.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has called for military unity in an appearance with soldiers at the air base where opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for an uprising two days earlier.

Flanked by commanders, Maduro said Thursday that the military must be prepared to combat "traitors" and the opposition had sought to provoke bloodshed in Caracas since security forces failed to respond to Guaidó's bid to take power.

He spoke from the Carlota air base in the opposition's stronghold of eastern Caracas that was the epicenter of the short-lived uprising.

Guaidó, backed by a small contingent of security forces, called for the military to turn against Maduro on Tuesday. But police dispersed the crowds in clashes that raged for hours.

Thousands of Venezuelans heeded the opposition's call to fill streets around the nation a day later.

The streets of the capital were calm on Thursday.

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