January 26, 2018 / 12:37 PM / a year ago

EU condemns Venezuela's expulsion of Spanish ambassador

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union on Friday condemned Venezuela for expelling the ambassador of Spain, calling for the decision to be reversed and diplomatic relations to remain in place.

Venezuela acted three days after the EU announced new sanctions against seven senior Venezuelan officials, including asset freezes and travel bans, over concerns about the political crisis under President Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro’s government said on Thursday it had declared Spanish Ambassador Jesus Silva Fernandez “persona non grata” in response to what it called Spain’s “aggressions”.

“The EU firmly condemns the decision by the Venezuelan authorities to declare the Spanish ambassador in Caracas a persona non grata,” a spokeswoman for the European Commission told a regular news conference.

“We call for the decision to be reversed as it goes against the need to keep diplomatic channels open.”

Venezuela sees Spain as one of the main promoters of the EU sanctions.

“We recall that the decisions taken by the EU in matters of foreign affairs are taken unanimously by all member states,” the Commission spokeswoman added.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Mark Heinrich

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