Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the US is going to ignore Nicolas Maduro's demand for all American diplomats to leave Venezuela within 72 hours—because the US no longer considers Maduro to be the president of Venezuela. Pompeo said in a statement after Maduro's ultimatum that the US will conduct its affairs through Juan Guaido, who declared himself to be interim president on Wednesday. Reuters reports. "The United States does not recognize the Maduro regime as the government of Venezuela," Pompeo said. "Accordingly the United States does not consider former president Nicolas Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations."
Maduro, who was inaugurated for a second term Jan. 10, said the opposition leader's claim to the presidency was part of a US plot, the New York Times reports. "I am the only president of Venezuela," Maduro said Wednesday. "We do not want to return to the 20th century of gringo interventions and coups d’état." The US recognized Guaido as the troubled country's new leader Wednesday, as did Canada and numerous Latin American countries, including neighbors Colombia and Brazil. But Maduro still has the support of powerful countries including China, Turkey, Russia, and Iran, the AP reports. China urged the US to stay out of the crisis Thursday, saying it "opposes external intervention in Venezuela." (Read more Venezuela stories.)