American jailed in Venezuela for 2 years arrives in US

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro greets US senator Bob Corker during the latter's visit to the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro greets US senator Bob Corker during the latter's visit to the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas

Holt, who had changed from his blue jeans into a navy blue suit and tie for the White House visit, looked calm and at ease sitting next to Trump.

Holt told Trump: "I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude", adding his imprisonment on weapons charges had been very hard and "not really the great vacation I was looking for".

"I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude for you guys, for everything that you've done", Holt said, noting it was "very, very hard two years". Not really the great vacation that I was looking for... "There wasn't an hour or minute that you weren't thinking about this man".

Also at the homecoming were Mr. Holt's parents and the three Republican senators who helped secretly negotiate his release, Sens.

"It's incredible that you were able to take it. that was a tough situation", Trump said during a televised meeting at the Oval Office with Holt and his parents.

American missionary Josh Holt, held by Venezuela without trial on weapons charges since 2016, returned home with his wife on Saturday after the South American country's socialist government unexpectedly released them.

The talks were encouraged by Pompeo, who met privately with Corker on Thursday morning and finalized details of the senator's trip ahead of testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the State Department budget.

Mr Trump, in a tweet, described Mr Holt as a "hostage".

Both Holt and USA officials have denied all charges.

"We are on our way home", Mr Corker tweeted.

"We're praying that this type of gesture ... will allow us to strengthen what we've always sought: dialogue, harmony, respect for our independence and respect for our sovereignty", he said.

Holt, 26, traveled to Caracas in June 2016 to marry a fellow Mormon he had met online while looking to improve his Spanish. Police arrested the couple after finding an assault rifle and grenades during a raid on a housing complex where the couple lived.

Shortly afterward he was arrested and accused by the Venezuelan government of stockpiling weapons and attempting to destabilize the government. The Venezuelan government released 20 activists from prison the same day.

The Trump administration tightened financial sanctions on cash-strapped Venezuela after the vote.

Saturday's outcome, Hatch said, resulted from work across two presidential administrations and with diplomatic contacts, ambassadors and Maduro himself.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., spoke to Trump at length Friday night and later said the couple's release "will in no way change US policy toward the dictatorship in Venezuela".

Maduro shook hands with Corker in images broadcast on state TV from the presidential palace, which said the two were "strengthening global relationships", without offering more details.

Now, Laurie Holt said she can't wait to sit down with her son. She said her son has suffered numerous health problems in jail, including kidney stones and respiratory problems. The U.S. Embassy was kept at an arm's length, for fear of derailing the talks, although the initiative was backed by Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon, who also knew Maduro from his days as political officer in Caracas at the outset of Hugo Chavez's revolution in the 1990s, several senior U.S. officials said.

Such sanctions complicate Venezuela's efforts to sell off financial IOUs known as "accounts receivable" - a practise used to garner much-needed revenue for the cash-starved regime, senior U.S. officials say.

The statement expressed gratitude "to everyone who participated in this miracle".

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