German Ambassador expelled from Venezuela after supporting 'interim President' Juan Guaido

Caracas calls possible US sanctions against Venezuela's partners blockade tools

Caracas calls possible US sanctions against Venezuela's partners blockade tools

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as interim president by the US and more than 50 other countries, arrived for a session of the opposition-led National Assembly, as a bitter political standoff with President Nicolas Maduro continues.

A statement from Venezuela's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said German Ambassador Daniel Kriener had repeatedly "interfered in the country's internal affairs, in clear contravention of the norms that govern diplomatic relations".

Kriener was granted a period of 48 hours to leave the territory of Venezuela, the statement said.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has asked the New York-based Citibank finance group to delay by 120 days Venezuela's repurchase of gold granted by President Nicolas Maduro's government as collateral for a loan in 2015, Reuters reported unnamed sources as saying on Wednesday.

At the country's main airport, Kriener spoke to journalists and said he hoped the leader of the National Assembly would be safe. There were concerns that the opposition leader might face detention, but Mr Maduro's government did not move against him.

The German foreign ministry in Berlin confirmed the expulsion order.

"This is an incomprehensible decision that aggravates the situation and does not contribute to de-escalation", Maas said in a statement.

Guaido said in a speech to opposition lawmakers that Kriener's expulsion 'must be taken as a threat to the free world'.

"They're threatening an important European country that is providing humanitarian help to Venezuela", he said.

On Monday, the embassy said on its Twitter account that Kriener hoped Guaido's return 'was a step towards a peaceful and political process to overcome the Venezuelan crisis'.

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Guaido vowed Tuesday to increase pressure on Maduro, who in turn promised to crush a "crazed minority" that wants to remove him from power.

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro has cut ties with Colombia after opposition leaders used the neighboring Andean nation as a launching point for humanitarian aid meant to undermine his authority.

More than 50 other countries have recognized Guaido as interim president, but Maduro has powerful backing from Russian Federation and China.

The measure, announced by President Donald Trump's national security advisor John Bolton, is the latest tightening of screws in Washington's campaign to force Maduro from power.

The U.S., Germany and some 50 other countries have urged Maduro to resign so the country can prepare for elections. Maduro says he is the target of a USA -backed coup plot.

Earlier, Bloomberg cited sources as saying that the Bank of England had denied Maduro's request to withdraw Venezuela's gold reserves after US State Secretary Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton lobbied the United Kingdom government to cut off the Venezuelan government's access to foreign assets.

The man who says he is the rightful president, meanwhile, escalated his campaign to topple Maduro with an appeal for support from state unions, long reliant on government handouts.

The Trump administration has imposed oil sanctions in Venezuela as well as sanctions on high-ranking members of the Venezuelan security forces and other senior officials.

The move, which came a week after Venezuela deported a team from US television network Univision, drew condemnation from Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro and Florida Senator Rick Scott.

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