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Venezuela declares German ambassador persona non grata

In this file photo, taken on February 19, 2019, German Ambassador to Venezuela Daniel Kriener speaks to journalists after attending a meeting with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, left, at the defunct National Assembly in Caracas. (By AFP)

Venezuela has ordered the German ambassador to leave, after declaring him persona non grata for meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

The expulsion of Daniel Kriener comes two days after he and diplomats from other European embassies received opposition leader Juan Guaido at the Caracas airport.

"Venezuela considers it unacceptable that a foreign diplomat carries out in its territory a public role closer to that of a political leader aligned with the conspiratorial agenda of extremist sectors of the Venezuelan opposition," the Caracas government said in a statement on Wednesday.

Kriener was given 48 hours to leave the country.

A German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman confirmed the expulsion, saying consultations were underway between the ministry and its allies on how to respond.

Venezuela has been in political turmoil since Guaido, a lawmaker who leads the defunct National Assembly, in February disputed the 2018 reelection of President Nicolas Maduro and proclaimed himself the “interim president” of the country.

Guaido was quickly recognized by the United States and a number of its Latin American allies.

Several European Union states, including Germany, later followed suit after Caracas rejected a call to organize a new presidential election within an eight-day period set by the 28-nation bloc.

The Western-backed opposition blames Maduro for an ailing economy, hyperinflation, power cuts, and shortages of basic items, urging him to resign.

Maduro has accused Guaido of staging a Washington-engineered coup d’état, calling on him to abandon his coup-mongering strategies and engage, instead, in constructive dialogue with the government.

On Monday, Kriener, along with envoys and diplomats from other European embassies, showed up at the airport in support of Guaido, who had risked arrest on his return to Venezuela over violating a travel ban imposed in late January by the Supreme Court for his role in “serious crimes that threaten the constitutional order.”

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