White House Says Policy toward Venezuela Not Changing

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The White House is thanking the government of Venezuela for releasing an American held in jail for two years but adding that US policy toward the Maduro government isn't changing.

White House Says Policy toward Venezuela Not Changing

Venezuelan officials released 26-year-old Joshua Holt of Utah and his Venezuelan wife on Saturday after talks between President Nicolas Maduro and US lawmakers. President Donald Trump welcomed the Holts to the Oval Office to celebrate their release.

In a statement Saturday night, the White House says the Holts were unjustly held. The statement calls for free, fair and transparent elections consistent with the constitution of Venezuela, dismissing its May 20 elections as illegitimate, AP reported.

The White House is also calling on Venezuela to release all political prisoners and accept international humanitarian aid for its dying citizens.

President Donald Trump has welcomed to the White House an American held for two years in a Venezuelan jail, saying the Utah man has undergone a "very tough ordeal."

Twenty-six-year-old Joshua Holt and his wife arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport. Venezuelan officials released the Holts after high-level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and US lawmakers.

Sitting with Trump and other US officials, Holt said he was "overwhelmed with gratitude" for those who worked for his release.

Trump says 17 prisoners have been freed from overseas captivity since he's been president and that others would be coming.

The wife of the American man held for two years in jail in Venezuela says they worried until their plane was in the air that their release and flight to the US would somehow fall apart.

Joshua Holt and his wife arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport. Venezuelan officials released the Holts after high-level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and US lawmakers.

Holt's wife, Thamara Caleno, exchanged text messages with The Associated Press as she and Holt were traveling. She says that a fellow inmate at their Caracas jail relayed information Friday night that prison officials were discussing their release.

At 10 that night, a warden asked to see them, then every two hours afterward they were awakened to have their pictures taken as part of a heightened security protocol.

The next morning, they were told to pack their things and prepare to go.

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