Venezuela expels German ambassador for backing Guaido

AFP Caracas, Capital District, Venezuela Mar 06, 2019, 10.18 PM(IST)

File photo of Venezuela's Juan Guaido Photograph:( AFP )

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The foreign ministry said Martin Kriener had 48 hours to leave following 'interference' in Venezuela's internal affairs after he greeted Guaido at Caracas airport on his return to the country on Monday.

Venezuela's government has ordered the expulsion of Germany's ambassador over his backing of opposition leader Juan Guaido in a political struggle with President Nicolas Maduro.

The foreign ministry said Martin Kriener had 48 hours to leave following "interference" in Venezuela's internal affairs after he greeted Guaido at Caracas airport on his return to the country on Monday.

Guaido, the 35-year-old National Assembly leader who is recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries including Germany, defied a government travel ban to slip out of the country on February 23. 

He returned Monday to call for fresh demonstrations against Maduro, facing down threats of arrest after a tour of friendly Latin American capitals.

A government statement said Kriener "showed up at Maiquetia international airport to witness the arrival of the deputy in contempt of the country, Juan Guaido."

Venezuela said it was "unacceptable" that the ambassador acted in "clear alignment with the conspiracy agenda of extremist sectors of the Venezuelan opposition."

The German foreign ministry in Berlin confirmed the expulsion order.

"We can confirm that Ambassador Daniel Kriener has been declared 'persona non grata,'" it said.

"We are currently working on the next steps, including on site with our partners."