March 14, 2019 / 6:27 PM / 12 days ago

Pompeo says all U.S. diplomats have left Venezuela

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boards his plane at Colonel Jesus Villamor Airbase, in Manila, Philippines, Friday, March 1, 2019, to travel to Washington. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS/Files

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - All U.S. diplomats remaining in Venezuela left the country on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, amid a political crisis over the legitimacy of President Nicolas Maduro’s 2018 re-election.

“U.S. diplomats will now continue that mission from other locations where they will continue to help manage the flow of humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people and support the democratic actors bravely resisting tyranny,” Pompeo said in a statement.

A U.S. official said the diplomats were flown out in a civilian charter aircraft.

The State Department had already announced that it would withdraw its remaining diplomatic staff from Venezuela this week.

Washington has taken the lead in recognizing Juan Guaido, the 35-year-old Congress chief who declared himself interim president in January, calling Maduro’s 2018 re-election a fraud. Most countries in Europe and Latin America have followed suit.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart; writing by Doina Chiacu; editing by David Alexander and David Gregorio

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