Pompeo says Venezuela's Maduro can't 'break diplomatic relations' with US

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS downplays North Korea's saber rattling Overnight Defense: Pompeo rejects North Korean call for him to leave negotiations | Trump talk with rebel Libyan general raises eyebrows | New setback to Taliban talks The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems face tricky balancing act after Mueller report MORE said Wednesday that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro does not have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States.

Pompeo's statement came hours after Maduro on Wednesday ordered American diplomats in Venezuela to leave the country within 72 hours, saying that he was cutting off all diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Venezuela. 

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"The United States does not consider former president Nicolas Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare our diplomats persona non grata," Pompeo said in a statement

Pompeo also cautioned that the U.S. would take "appropriate actions" to deal with anyone who endangered U.S. personnel.

"The United States will take appropriate actions to hold accountable anyone who endangers the safety and security of our mission and its personnel," he warned.

The U.S. earlier on Wednesday recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country's interim president. 

Maduro was sworn in for a second six-year term at the beginning of this year. Multiple Central American countries as well as the U.S. and European Union declared the election illegitimate. 

Guaidó, as head of the opposition-led National Assembly, has been internationally recognized as the only democratically elected leader with a claim to Venezuela's presidency.

"The United States stands with interim President Juan Guaidó, the democratically elected National Assembly, and the people of Venezuela as they peacefully restore constitutional order to their country," Pompeo said. "We welcome interim President Guaido’s directive to all diplomatic missions in Venezuela that Venezuela intends to maintain diplomatic relations with all countries." 

"The United States maintains diplomatic relations with Venezuela and will conduct our relations with Venezuela through the government of interim President Guaidó, who has invited our mission to remain in Venezuela," he added.

Pompeo urged Venezuelan military and security forces to protect its country's citizens, in addition to U.S. and other foreign citizens there.

"We call on all parties to refrain from measures that are inconsistent with the privileges and immunities enjoyed by members of the diplomatic community," he added.