US Diplomats Pack Up and Leave Venezuela

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According to Reuters US official said the diplomats were flown out in a civilian charter aircraft.

Many European Union member countries are among 50 nations, including the United States, which are backing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido against embattled President Nicolas Maduro. He added, the USA will resume its presence in the country "once the transition to democracy begins", though he declined to offer a specific timeline. Venezuela later allowed a skeletal staff to remain at the hilltop U.S. Embassy until Thursday's withdrawal.

Pompeo released a video statement directly to the Venezuelan people on Thursday to reassure them of USA support in the wake of the withdrawal.

Earlier this week, Pompeo explained the decision to withdraw all diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, "reflects the deteriorating situation" and said their presence has "become a constraint on U.S. policy". The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry as well as individuals linked to Maduro's government, and U.S. President Donald Trump has said "all options are on the table" in his administration's support for Guaido.

Maduro was fiercely critical of national security adviser John Bolton and Elliott Abrams, the US special envoy for Venezuela.

Washington has taken the lead in recognizing Juan Guaido, the 35-year-old Congress chief who declared himself interim president in January, calling Maduro's 2018 re-election a fraud.

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A convoy was seen leaving the U.S. Embassy in Caracas on Thursday morning, and the American flag was no longer flying outside the embassy.

The country began returning to normal Thursday following a near-total weeklong blackout that the government has blamed on what it calls sabotage encouraged by the US.

The Venezuelan government disputed Pompeo's account, saying it had instructed the US diplomats to leave.

"Since this Monday. we have revoked 340 visas, 107 of which include visas of Maduro's former diplomats and their families", Palladino told reporters.

Morales, who is on a visit to Greece, said meddling in the domestic affairs of another country never bodes well.

They and others now recognise Guaido, the leader of the country's opposition-controlled legislative body, as Venezuela's rightful interim president. "It's the Maduro regime which has prevented that", he said.

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