BRUSSELS (AP) – The top diplomat of the European Union said on Tuesday that the block will summon Venezuela’s ambassador over the South American country’s decision to oust the EU envoy in Caracas, arguing that all options are “on the table lie”.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has ordered the EU ambassador to leave the country on Monday after severe financial measures by the 27-nation bloc against 11 Venezuelans, including Luis Parra, who heads a National Assembly rival led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
Maduro gave the ambassador 72 hours to leave Venezuela.
“We believe that the decision to give 72 hours to an EU ambassador in Caracas to leave the country requires the necessary measures of reciprocity, but I cannot determine what it will be,” said EU foreign chief Josep Borrell’s policy during a news conference. “We will call Nicolás Maduro’s ambassador to the EU institutions today. Let’s look after this meeting. At the moment, all options are on the table.”
The measures imposed by the EU have brought the total number of Venezuelan officials under European sanctions to 36, including a travel ban and asset freezing. EU officials said in a statement that the sanctions target individuals and not the general population.
Venezuela is a once prosperous oil country experiencing an economic and political crisis that has driven about 5 million people out of the country due to a shortage of basic goods, rising inflation and broken hospitals.
While the United States has spearheading Maduro with sanctions, leaders in Europe and Canada have also thrown their support behind Guaidó, in a coalition of nearly 60 countries. However, Maduro remains in power with control of military and international support from allies, including China, Russia, Iran and Cuba.
“We are convinced that any measure that hinders diplomatic work will only help escalate tensions and undermine a peaceful and political way out of the crisis,” said Borrell. “I think it further isolates the Maduro regime internationally and it is not a good way to solve the political problem in Venezuela and that is why we deeply regret this measure.”
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