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Venezuela gives US two weeks to cut 80 diplomats

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THE Venezuelan government says the United States has two weeks to dramatically reduce the number of diplomats it has in the country.

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said the US could decide which of its 100 diplomats should be sent home.

She said the goal was to bring the balance down to 17 – the number of Venezuelan diplomats in the US.

On Saturday, President Nicolas Maduro said the US had been meddling in Venezuela’s affairs.

He said US citizens visiting the country would now be required to apply for visas charged at the same rates levied on Venezuelans wishing to visit the US.

Mr Maduro said Venezuela would also issue a list of banned politicians who it considered to have promoted human rights abuses.

Earlier this month the US imposed visa restrictions on unnamed Venezuelan officials it accused of human rights violations and corruption.

The move builds on sanctions imposed last year on Venezuelan officials alleged to have violated the rights of protesters during demonstrations that shook the country in the first six months of 2014.

President Maduro has frequently accused the US of working with opposition groups against his government.

Earlier this year he said the US had attempted to encourage a coup that involved bombing the presidential palace. Washington rejected the accusations as ludicrous.

The two countries have not exchanged ambassadors for the last five years.



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