U.S. orders some diplomats to leave Venezuela

A U.S. flag waves at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department on Thursday ordered some U.S. government workers to leave Venezuela and said U.S. citizens should consider leaving the country, a day after Washington recognized an opposition politician as Venezuela’s president.

“We are taking this action based on our current assessment of the security situation in Venezuela. We have no plans to close the embassy,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro broke off diplomatic relations with Washington and gave U.S. embassy personnel three days to leave the country after President Donald Trump on Wednesday recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as president.

In a security alert, the U.S. embassy in Caracas said non-emergency U.S. government employees had been told to leave Venezuela and American citizens should “strongly consider” departing while commercial flights were still available.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by James Dalgleish and Rosalba O’Brien