Venezuela eases US tension

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Government supporters hold a rally in support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on January 26, 2019 in Caracas. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP)

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela defused a potential showdown with the United States, suspending a demand that US diplomats leave the country as Washington called on the world to “pick a side” in the South American nation’s fast-moving crisis.

Socialist President Nicolas Maduro broke relations with the United States on Wednesday after the Trump administration and many other nations in the region recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, a move that Maduro called a coup attempt.

Socialist President Nicolas Maduro broke relations with the United States on Wednesday after the Trump administration and many other nations in the region recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, a move that Maduro called a coup attempt.

Government supporters hold a rally in support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on January 26, 2019 in Caracas. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP)

Maduro gave US diplomats three days to leave the country, but the Trump administration said it wouldn’t obey, arguing that Maduro is no longer Venezuela’s legitimate president. That set the stage for a showdown at the hilltop US Embassy compound Saturday night, when the deadline was to expire.

Government supporters hold a rally in support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on January 26, 2019 in Caracas. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP)

But as the sun set on Venezuela’s capital, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Maduro’s government was suspending the expulsion to provide a 30-day window for negotiating with US officials about setting up a “US interests office” in Venezuela and a similar Venezuelan office in the United States. The US and Cuba had a similar arrangement for decades before the Obama administration restored diplomatic relations with the communist-run island.

AP

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