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Venezuela’s Maduro Closing US Embassy, Consulates After Cutting Ties With U.S.

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday plans to close the United States embassy as well as all the U.S. consulates in an apparent retaliation to U.S. President Donald Trump’s endorsement of the Venezuelan opposition leader as the legitimate president.

Maduro made the announcement in a Thursday speech, according to Reuters, and added that he agreed with Mexico and Uruguay that Maduro’s government needs to form a dialogue with the rising opposition to find a resolution to the political crisis destabilizing the country.

The move comes just one day after Maduro announced he’d be severing diplomatic ties with the U.S. and expelling U.S. diplomatic personnel from the country within 72 hours.

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Trump became one of several world leaders Wednesday to recognize Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate president.

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“The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law,” Trump said in a statement. “I will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy.”

Guaido declared himself president amid nationwide protests and took the oath of office at an outdoor podium in the capital city of Caracas Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also announced Thursday that the U.S. would be pledging $20 million in aid to the people of Venezuela to help with the fallout of Maduro’s socialist regime.

The funds will help the “people of Venezuela as they struggle to cope with severe food and medicine shortages and the other dire impacts of their country’s political and economic crisis caused by the illegitimate Maduro regime,” the State Department said.

Canada and 11 countries in the Lima Group also pledged their support for Guaido shortly after Trump.

The Venezuelan Army declared its loyalty to Maduro Thursday and added that the opposition’s moves to overthrow him amounted to a coup, The New York Times reported.

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