May 14, 2020 / 8:23 AM / 21 days ago

France accuses Venezuela of harassing embassy, summons envoy

FILE PHOTO: French ambassador to Venezuela Romain Nadal and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country's rightful interim ruler, hug during a news conference with accredited diplomatic representatives of the European Union in Caracas, Venezuela February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - France has summoned Venezuela’s envoy over accusations President Nicolas Maduro’s government has been harassing its embassy in Caracas, including by cutting water and electricity to the ambassador’s residence, diplomats said on Thursday.

France is among dozens of nations which do not recognise Maduro’s disputed 2018 re-election and consider opposition leader Juan Guaido to be Venezuela’s rightful president.

Maduro has previously accused French ambassador Romain Nadal of meddling in internal affairs, and diplomats say the services to his home in Caracas have been cut since the start of May.

“France strongly condemns the measures taken in recent days, which hinder the normal functioning of our diplomatic mission in Caracas,” deputy foreign ministry spokesman Olivier Gauvin said in a statement, adding that the measures contravened the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

“French officials expect these measures to be rescinded without delay in order to restore normal operations at our diplomatic mission.”

Venezuela’s embassy in Paris could not be immediately reached for comment.

President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Guaido at the presidential palace in January, reiterating calls for free and transparent elections in the country.

Diplomats said that this, and the fact French diplomats were at the airport when Guaido returned to Caracas in February, may have prompted Maduro’s government to ramp up pressure on European countries in the Venezuelan capital.

“There are too many factors to think that this is a coincidence and other diplomatic missions have also been affected by this,” said a French official.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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