Venezuela provides US diplomats 72 hours to depart

ANKARA

Venezuela has given U.S diplomats 72 hours to leave the country, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Tuesday.

“U.S. diplomatic personnel must leave Venezuela in the next 72 hours,” Arreaza said on Twitter.

If the U.S. wants to reestablish ties with Venezuela, this can only happen through the United Nations, its Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The announcement follows Washington’s decision to withdraw its remaining diplomatic staff from its embassy in Caracas this week.

“This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday on Twitter.

Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10, when President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.

Tensions escalated when Juan Guaido, who heads Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself acting president on Jan. 23, a move which was supported by the U.S. and many European and Latin American countries.

Turkey, Russia, Iran, Cuba, China and Bolivia put their weight behind Maduro, who has vowed to cut all diplomatic and political ties with the U.S.

* Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic

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