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President Donald Trump welcomed the Holts to the Oval Office to celebrate their release.

At the White House, Trump told Holt he had been "incredibly courageous".

The White House action would complicate Venezuela's efforts to sell off financial IOUs known as "accounts receivable".

Josh Holt and his Venezuelan wife, Thamy, landed at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. There the couple and their daughter reunited with his family in a tearful meeting at the airport.

The U.S. government at first avoided ratcheting up public pressure on Venezuela amid already strained relations between the two countries, but eventually raised Holt's case to the highest levels of the Venezuela government. "It's really special to have you both", the president told Mr. Holt and his bride, Thamy Holt, on Saturday.

"Probably the only time anybody was ever happy that there was a bad instrument on an airplane", said Trump.

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

His wife also was jailed on allegations of being Holt's accomplice.

Holt's wife, Thamara Caleno, exchanged text messages with The Associated Press as she and Holt were traveling.

"They were a very, very hard two years", he continued. The official isn't authorized to speak about the matter by name. The elation on display was reinforced by Vice President Mike Pence who tweeted that Holt is "now back home with his family - where he always belonged".

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WASHINGTON - Joshua Holt, who traveled to Venezuela from Utah in 2016 to marry a Spanish-speaking Mormon woman but soon found himself jailed and later branded the CIA's top spy in Latin America, was set free by the anti-American Maduro government on Saturday, saying he was "overwhelmed with gratitude". Yet Mr Holt's release had seemed unlikely even a week ago. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., personally met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The couple were accompanied home by U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who met on Friday with Maduro.

Holt had planned to spend several months in Caracas in the summer of 2016 with his new wife, Thamara Candelo, and her and her two daughters, to secure their visas so they could move with him to the U.S. Recall that, during Corker's previous visit to Caracas in 2015, before the US sanctions increased, Maduro shunned him after having promised a meeting with him.

The Republican senator from Tennessee says much of the credit for Holt's release goes to his staffer Caleb McCarry for his dogged determination.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, praised Hatch for working "tirelessly to bring this innocent young man & his bride home".

"You better really live a good life", Hatch told Holt at the White House, drawing chuckles from Holt's family and others. Obviously, Maduro did not need Senator Corker then.

Venezuelan state television showed Corker and Maduro shaking hands Friday, before holding a closed door meeting at the presidential palace. Joshua Holt was wearing a bright orange backpack and was surrounded by supporters.

Trump noted that 17 Americans held overseas had been freed since the start of his administration, and said the U.S.is negotiating more releases.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And we should say that the USA says its policy towards Venezuela remains unchanged in the light of this release and that they conceded nothing to get Holt back.


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