Coordinated sanctions could stop Maduro from destabilizing region-Duque

By Julia Symmes Cobb and Luis Jaime Acosta

By Julia Symmes Cobb and Luis Jaime Acosta

BOGOTA, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Colombian President Ivan Duque called on Saturday for coordinated international sanctions targeting Venezuela to help stop President Nicolas Maduro's support for Colombian rebels and drug traffickers from destabilizing Latin America.

Duque, who accuses Maduro of providing a safe haven for Colombian rebel fighters from the now-demobilized FARC guerrilla group and the still-active ELN rebels, compared the Venezuelan leader to former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who was put on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for alleged war crimes in conflicts that destabilized the Balkans.

"We should look at communal sanctions and actions so that the threat of (Venezuela) protecting terrorism in its territory ends," Duque told Reuters before traveling to the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

"The international community must understand that the dictatorship has to come to an end soon because the humanitarian tragedy, in addition to the consolidation of a dictatorial regime that is coexisting with drug cartels and with terrorism, is a threat for the whole Western hemisphere and for the stability of the world."

Maduro accuses Colombia of preparing to attack Venezuela, and has repeatedly warned of an invasion coordinated with the U.S. government.

Colombia is the top destination for Venezuelans fleeing widespread shortages of food and medicine - some 1.4 million now reside in Colombia. (Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Daniel Wallis)