Venezuela restores diplomatic ties with Panama

CARACAS Tue Jul 1, 2014 11:08pm EDT

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during his radio program ''In contact with Maduro'' at Catia neighbourhood in Caracas, in this handout photo provided by Miraflores Palace July 1, 2014. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout via Reuters

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during his radio program ''In contact with Maduro'' at Catia neighbourhood in Caracas, in this handout photo provided by Miraflores Palace July 1, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Miraflores Palace/Handout via Reuters

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CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela has restored full diplomatic ties with Panama, President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday, months after he angrily broke off formal relations with the Central American country.

Diplomatic relations stopped on March 5 after Maduro used the anniversary of former President Hugo Chavez's death to accuse Panama's conservative government of joining the United States in an "open conspiracy" against him.

Panama had said in May consular relations would be restored soon on Venezuela's wishes but the socialist Maduro indicated this extended to full diplomatic cooperation.

"I send a greeting to the president of Panama. We have re-established diplomatic and political relations with Panama this very day," Maduro said in a televised address.

"We are going to deepen economic, diplomatic, trade and energy relations. Applause and a hug to the Panamanian people," he said, wearing a tracksuit top in the yellow, blue and red colors of the Venezuelan flag.

Maduro's government survived weeks of protest marches from February that resulted in more than 40 deaths and which erupted from anger at insecurity, inflation and shortages of basic goods.

Juan Carlos Varela was sworn in as Panama's president on Tuesday pledging to fight corruption and freeze prices of staple foods.

(Additional reporting and writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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