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Expelled German ambassador returns to Venezuela

media Germany's ambassador to Venezuela, Daniel Kriener, is seen here speaking to the press in February 2019 alongside opposition leader Juan Guaido (left) AFP/File

Germany's ambassador to Venezuela has returned after being expelled by President Nicolas Maduro's government in March over Berlin's backing of opposition leader Juan Guaido's claim to the presidency, the German embassy said on Monday.

Daniel Kriener arrived back in the crisis-hit South American nation at the weekend to "once again perform his duties from Caracas," the German embassy said on Twitter.

In March, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza declared Kriener "persona non grata" as he was given 48 hours to leave the country.

The move was criticized both by Germany and the European Union.

Maduro's government had accused Kriener of "interference" after he welcomed Guaido back at Caracas airport following the National Assembly speaker's controversial trip abroad to meet allied regional leaders.

Guaido -- who in January declared himself acting president in a direct challenge to the socialist leader's authority -- was under a travel ban imposed by the regime.

Germany is one of the more than 50 countries to have recognized Guaido's claims.

"Our position with respect to recognizing Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president, in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution, has not changed," said Germany's foreign ministry.

Venezuela's foreign ministry said the move had initiated a "process of normalization of relations between the two states."

Guaido and Venezuela's opposition have branded Maduro a "usurper" over his re-election last year in a poll widely dismissed as having been rigged.

They want Maduro to resign so new elections can be held.

The two sides have held talks in Norway and Barbados to try to resolve the political impasse.

Venezuela is crippled by an economic crisis that has left a quarter of the 30 million population needing humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.

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