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12 Mar, 2019 14:11

Final countdown: US diplomats given 72 hours to pull out of Venezuela

Final countdown: US diplomats given 72 hours to pull out of Venezuela

US diplomats are undermining Venezuelan peace and stability, the nation’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said, setting a deadline for them to vacate the embassy in Caracas. Washington vowed to hurry the evacuation of its mission.

American diplomats must “abandon Venezuelan territory in the next 72 hours,” with the countdown starting at the “zero hour” on Tuesday, Arreaza wrote on Twitter.

Venezuela had earlier demanded that Washington clear the embassy in Caracas of any remaining personnel. The presence of American diplomats “entails risks to the country’s peace, integrity and stability,” the minister explained.

He accused the US of threatening the nation with military intervention and said that officials in Washington “have systematically lied to the world regarding Venezuelan reality.”

At the same time, Jorge Arreaza stressed that Venezuela stands ready to restart dialogue with the US, as long as the communication is based on “equality and mutual respect.”

As the deadline was issued, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the evacuation of the embassy in Caracas, which is set to be completed within a week.

The pullout was ordered due to the “deteriorating situation” in the country, he said.

The US and Venezuela have been locked in a renewed standoff since January when Washington openly backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, shortly after he declared himself ‘interim president’ of the nation.

The current President Nicholas Maduro denounced Guaido’s move and accused US leader Donald Trump of plotting a coup against him.

Washington imposed new sanctions on Venezuela and pressured its allies and other nations to follow suit. Some top US officials, and President Trump himself, refused to explicitly rule out the use of a ‘military option’ against Caracas.

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