US rejects Venezuela’s order to slash embassy staff

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A supporter of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro holds a picture of the late President Hugo Chavez during a rally outside of Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. Photo: AP

(VOVworld) – The United States pushed back on Tuesday against Venezuela’s demand for a dramatic cut in the American diplomatic mission in Caracas. A US statement was issued after Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez gave the US two weeks to come up with a plan to slash the size of its embassy from around 100 diplomats to 17 to match the number of functionaries at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington. Caracas has issued regulations removing the US from a list of countries whose citizens can travel to Venezuela without obtaining a visa. Visa regulations have been applied to US citizens entering Venezuela, including tourists, in response to US interventions into Venezuela’s internal affairs. The same official notice also formally banned entry by a list of conservative US politicians, including former President George W. Bush, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez. US diplomats are now required to ask for permission from the Venezuelan government for contact with Venezuelan oppositions. Venezuela accused Washington of conducting an economic war against Caracas and backing moves that trigger instability in Venezuela. The US government said the Venezuelan accusations are false and groundless but has not otherwise responded to Venezuela’s new measures.

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