April 26, 2018 / 9:53 PM / 24 days ago

Venezuela, Panama to restore envoys, resume airline service - Maduro

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela and Panama will restore ambassadors and allow for the resumption of airline service, turning the page on a diplomatic dispute between the two countries, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told reporters on Thursday.

Venezuela this month cut commercial ties with a group of Panamanian officials and companies, including regional airline Copa, for alleged involvement in money laundering, prompting both countries to recall ambassadors.

“We’ve agreed ... on the return of the ambassadors of Venezuela and Panama to their respective embassies, and to resume air connectivity with all the airlines as of tomorrow,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast.

Copa, which has become a crucial provider of international flights following a sharp reduction in airline services to crisis-stricken Venezuela, did not answer phone calls seeking comment.

Venezuela had accused Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and nearly two dozen Cabinet ministers and top-ranking officials of involvement in money laundering.

That came a week after Panama declared Maduro and some 50 Venezuelan nationals “high risk” suspects for laundering money and financing terrorism.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth and Vivian Sequera; editing by Grant McCool and Tom Brown

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