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Brazil coordinating with US on aid operation to Venezuela: official

A Colombian policeman stands guard under the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, on the border between Tachira, Venezuela and Cucuta, Colombia, on February 7, 2019
A Colombian policeman stands guard under the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, on the border between Tachira, Venezuela and Cucuta, Colombia, on February 7, 2019 AFP/File
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Brasília (AFP)

Brazil is cooperating with the United States to supply aid to Venezuela, but will leave it to Venezuelans to actually take the humanitarian goods over the border, a presidential spokesman said Tuesday.

"The Brazilian government is mobilizing an interministerial taskforce to define the logistics of supplying humanitarian aid to the people of Venezuela from February 23," spokesman Otavio de Rego Barros told a news conference.

"The aid, which includes food and medicine, will be made available in Brazilian territory... for collection by the government of (Venezuela's self-proclaimed) interim president Juan Guaido, with Venezuelan trucks driven by Venezuelans."

He said the operation was being organized "in cooperation with the government of the United States."

The US military has already delivered aid to Colombia, where it is stockpiled on the border with Venezuela.

Saturday is shaping up to be a day of potential confrontation between tens of thousands of Guaido's supporters who are determined to bring in the aid from Colombia and Brazil, and the Venezuelan military loyal to President Nicolas Maduro, who has vowed to block it.

Moments before Brazil's announcement of its aid plans, a Venezuelan military official said his country had closed the sea border with the Caribbean island of Curacao, which had been mooted as another aid launching point.

Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino warned that his forces were "on alert" to prevent any unauthorized movement across the border.

US President Donald Trump, whose government is masterminding the aid operation as a way to back Guaido and pressure Maduro, has refused to rule out military action in Venezuela.

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