Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (Image credit: Joka Madruga/Flickr)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro kicked out three major American diplomats from his country on Monday and stated that there will be no “cordial ties” with the U.S. until Venezuelan sovereignty is respected.
Maduro expelled the diplomats from a U.S. Embassy on Monday, saying that the officials were conducting espionage and attempting to destabilize his country.
Washington entirely rejected the charges, which Maduro said involve meeting with opposition leaders and encouraging sabotage of the Venezuelan electricity grid and economy, according to Reuters.
Maduro went even further than kicking out the diplomats, including Kelly Keiderling, temporarily in charge of the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela.
“Until the U.S. government understands it has to respect Venezuela, which is a sovereign country, there will simply be no cordial relations, nor cordial communication,” Maduro said at a cabinet meeting, according to China’s Xinhua.
One of the other diplomats expelled from the country was Elizabeth Hoffman, an official in the political section of the embassy.
Maduro publicly accused Hoffman of meeting with opposition figures in order to plan the sabotage of Venezuela’s electrical system, according to The New York Times.
“We completely reject the Venezuelan government’s allegations of U.S. government involvement in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuelan government,” the U.S. embassy said in a statement, according to Reuters. “We likewise reject the specific claims against the three members of our embassy.”
Currently, the U.S. government is still reportedly evaluating how they will respond to the expulsion of the officials.
The U.S. is considering taking reciprocal action against Venezuela in line with the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, the embassy statement said.
In response to a Venezuelan state TV broadcast of images of diplomatic vehicles and a flight manifest shown as proof of U.S. officials meeting with the opposition, the U.S. said it was a “normal diplomatic engagement.”
“We maintain regular contacts across the Venezuelan political spectrum … This is what diplomats do,” the statement said.
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