Venezuela defuses showdown, allows US diplomats to stay

Caracas: Venezuela defused a potential showdown with the US, suspending a demand that US diplomats leave the country as Washington called on the world to “pick a side” in the South American nation’s fast-moving crisis. ocialist President Nicolas Maduro broke relations with the US on Wednesday after the Trump administration and many other nations in the region recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, a move that Maduro called a coup attempt.

Maduro gave US diplomats three days to leave the country, but the Trump administration said it wouldn’t obey, arguing that Maduro is no longer Venezuela’s legitimate president. That set the stage for a showdown at the hilltop US Embassy compound when the deadline was to expire. But as the sun set on Venezuela, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Maduro’s government was suspending the expulsion to provide a 30-day window for negotiating with US officials about setting up a “US interests office” in Venezuela and a similar Venezuelan office in the US.  The US and Cuba had a similar arrangement for decades before the Obama administration restored diplomatic relations with the communist-run island. eanwhile, Maduro on Sunday said he is open for talks with the international community, especially with US Prez Trump, over the ongoing political crisis in the South American nation.

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