US orders some diplomats to leave Venezuela

TEHRAN, Jan. 25 (MNA) – US State Department on Thursday ordered nonessential staff at the US Embassy in Venezuela to leave the country, one day after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he was giving diplomats 72 hours to exit.

Earlier Thursday, Maduro ordered all Venezuelan diplomats home from the US and said it's closing its embassy. He said that if US officials had any sense, they would pull out their own diplomats, rather than defy his order.

Initially, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that since America doesn't consider Maduro the legitimate leader of Venezuela; he claimed Preisdent Maduro doesn't "have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare our diplomats persona non grata."

However, the State Department said that staff and diplomats who are not essential to operations will leave the country for security reasons. The embassy in Caracas will remain open, he claimed.

The move comes in the days after the Trump administration  announced it recognizes Venezuela's opposition leader, Juan Gaido, as interim president.

In a statement on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi reacted to the political developments in Venezuela and the US’ overt and unlawful interventions in the country’s domestic affairs, saying “the Islamic Republic of Iran supports the government and the nation of Venezuela in the face of any foreign intervention in the country’s internal affairs or any illegal or anti-popular actions, such as attempts to stage coups.”

Cuba has also strongly condemned the attempt to impose through a coup a puppet government at the service of the US in Venezuela and expressed its unwavering solidarity with the Government of the constitutional president Nicolás Maduro.

MNA/4522892

News Code 141850

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