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Venezuela names German ambassador ‘persona non grata’ for ‘interference in its internal affairs’

Venezuela names German ambassador ‘persona non grata’ for ‘interference in its internal affairs’
The Venezuelan authorities have declared the German ambassador Daniel Kriener persona non grata over what it called “interference into its internal affairs."

Germany’s envoy has become the first European diplomat to be expelled from the Latin American state amid the ongoing escalation of tensions between Caracas and Washington and its allies, supporting a self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido, who challenges the rule of elected leader Nicolas Maduro.

“Venezuela considers its unacceptable that a foreign diplomat … plays a public role on its territory, which is more typical for a political leader, who clearly supports the conspiracy agenda of the extremist parts of the Venezuelan opposition,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement explaining its decision.

Kriener was granted a period of 48 hours to leave the territory of Venezuela, the statement said.

The ambassador’s actions “contradicted the essential norms … of diplomatic relations” and are considered “hostile and unfriendly,” the ministry said, adding that any interference into “matters of exclusive competence of Venezuelan people and authorities” would “not be tolerated.”

At the same time, Caracas said it is still ready to maintain a “respectful and cooperative relationship with all the governments of Europe” as long as they refrain from “encouraging a coup and violent actions,” as well as contribute to a “peaceful solution” of the Venezuelan political crisis and foster a dialogue between various Venezuelan political forces.

The German Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman confirmed that Kriener was expelled.

On Monday, the ambassador, along with other European envoys and diplomats, went to the Caracas airport to support Guaido, who returned to Venezuela from a trip to several Latin American countries. The self-proclaimed “president” met with the leaders of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Ecuador in a bid to rally support for his cause. Guaido toured Latin America despite a court-imposed travel ban, which barred him from leaving Venezuela.

It is unclear if the German ambassador’s actions on Monday prompted Caracas to expel him.

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In mid-February, Venezuela also kicked out a team of “interventionist” European parliamentarians, who came to meet with Guaido. Caracas accused them of coming with “conspiratorial purposes” and sent them back upon arrival.

Later the same month, Maduro also broke relations with neighboring Columbia and expelled its diplomats as well. The US envoy and his deputy were sent out of Venezuela back in May 2018 after being accused of allegedly conspiring against the government. The move came after Washington denounced Maduro’s victory in Venezuela’s presidential elections and refused to recognize its results.

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