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Panama Withdraws Ambassador to Venezuela, Asks Caracas to Do the Same

CC0 / DavidRockDesign / Venezuela flag
Venezuela flag - Sputnik International
Panama's Foreign ministry announced on Thursday the withdrawal of its ambassador from Venezuela and asked Caracas to remove its envoy to Panama.

"The government of Panama has decided to withdraw its ambassador in Venezuela, Miguel Mejia, and requests the Venezuelan Government to withdraw its ambassador in Panama, Jorge Duran Centeno," the statement read.

Later that day Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Panama for consultations, according to Vice President Tareck El Aissami, after the neighboring country announced plans to pull its top diplomat from Caracas.

"To protect the sacred interests of Bolivar’s homeland and the Venezuelan people, President Nicolas Maduro decided to recall our ambassador to Panama, Jorge Duran Centeno, for consultations," he tweeted.

Earlier, media reported that Venezuela on Thursday banned dozens of Panama’s officials and companies in retaliation for blacklisting its president and other high-ranking officials on suspicion of money laundering.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures as he talks to the media during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela February 15, 2018 - Sputnik International
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The 90-day ban concerns 22 Panamanian individuals and 46 Panama-based legal entities, Venezuela’s national AVN news agency reported, citing a joint decision by the ministries of interior, finance and international trade.

Last week, Panama put President Nicolas Maduro on a watch list. It is comprised of 55 Venezuelans suspected of such offences as terrorism financing and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The interior minister, the chief prosecutor and the supreme justice were among those targeted.

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