Venezuela, Spain to expel ambassadors as 'persona non grata'

Venezuela Declares Spanish Envoy Persona Non Grata

Venezuela expels Spanish ambassador after EU sanctions

Diplomat should receive 'the same treatment that they've given to the Spanish ambassador, ' a government spokesperson said.

The Venezuelan government declared on Thursday Spain's ambassador to Caracas, Jesus Silva Fernandez, to be persona non grata because of the "continuing attacks and recurring acts of interference" by the Spanish government in Venezuela's internal affairs.

The EU on Friday condemned Venezuela for expelling the Spanish ambassador and called for the decision to be reversed and diplomatic relations to remain in place.

Spain wants to maintain a relationship based on mutual respect, friendship and cooperation, Fernandez said, but decisions by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro "make it hard to realize this hope".

"The most corrupt government ... in the history of Spain is led by Mariano Rajoy", Maduro said earlier this week.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday he was "rather favorable" to increasing European sanctions on Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday rejected the comments by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who supported the European Union for passing sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials.

The seven include former president of the national assembly, Diosdado Cabello, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol and the chief justice of the supreme court, Maikel Moreno.

The European Union (EU) said the officials were all "involved in the non-respect of democratic principles or the rule of law as well as in the violation of human rights".

According to Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, the expulsion of Fernandez was directly connected to Spain's involvement in the sanctions. Venezuela said on Thursday it was expelling the Spanish ambassador from Caracas in response to Spanish "aggressions", Reuters said.

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