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U.S. opens Venezuelan diplomatic office in neighbouring Colombia

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U.S. opens Venezuelan diplomatic office in neighbouring Colombia
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Charge d'Affaires for Venezuela James Story, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Bogota, Colombia April 12, 2019. REUTERS/Julia Symmes Cobb/File Photo   -   Copyright  JULIA SYMMES COBB(Reuters)
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The State Department on Wednesday launched a U.S. representative office for Venezuela in Bogota, Colombia and said it will continue its opposition to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and support for opposition leader Juan Guaido from there.

The Venezuela Affairs Unit (VAU) will be headed by James Story, the U.S. charge d’affaires to Venezuela, who was among the last American diplomats withdrawn from the U.S. embassy in Caracas in March as conditions deteriorated in the country.

“The VAU will continue to work for the restoration of democracy and the constitutional order in that country, and the security and well-being of the Venezuelan people,” the department said in a statement.

Washington has been trying to cut off money flows to Maduro’s government in an economic and diplomatic campaign aimed at pressuring Maduro to step down.

The United States and most Western nations support Guaido as the country’s legitimate president. Maduro has accused Guaido of mounting a U.S.-directed coup attempt earlier this year.

More than 1.4 million Venezuelans have migrated to Colombia in recent years, fleeing the deep political and economic crisis that has caused long-running shortages of food and medicines.

Colombia has borne the brunt of mass migration from its neighbour.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by David Gregorio)

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