WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration says its preference for the peaceful, orderly return to democracy in Venezuela remains "unchanged."

White House National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis commented Sunday following a New York Times report that Trump administration officials have met secretly in the past year with Venezuelan military rebels to discuss their plans to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro.

The report cited unnamed American officials and a former Venezuelan military commander who took part in the talks, and says the U.S. officials ultimately decided against helping the plotters.

Marquis says a lasting solution to the political and economic crisis brought on by Maduro's authoritarian leadership in Venezuela can only be realized following the "restoration of governance by democratic practices, the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms."

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