April 18, 2018 / 8:49 PM / 3 months ago

Venezuela and Spain agree to restore ambassadors after spat

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela and Spain said on Wednesday they would normalize relations and restore ambassadors after a spat in January that followed European Union sanctions against the South American nation.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends an event with supporters in Caracas, Venezuela April 9, 2018. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

President Nicolas Maduro in January withdrew his envoy to Madrid in response to what he called “repeated meddling” in the country’s internal affairs, leading Spain to respond in kind.

The two countries “agreed to begin a process of normalizing diplomatic relations,” they said in a joint statement, adding that ambassadors would be restored in the coming days.

The European Union in January sanctioned a group of Venezuela officials over abuses associated with opposition protests, a move that followed a series of sanctions by Washington over similar issues.

Venezuela has faced heavy criticism from the United States and Europe, as well as Latin American neighbours, for last year’s creation of an all-powerful legislature called the constituent assembly that critics call the creation of a dictatorship.

The decision to call a snap presidential election for May 20 has been widely criticized as undermining the possibility of a free and fair election in the crisis-torn country.

Maduro routinely criticizes Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy during live television broadcasts, and has accused Spain of working with other European governments to destabilize his government.

Reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Tom Brown and Peter Cooney

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