Venezuela, Panama to restore envoys and resume airline service

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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, they said yesterday.

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.

The two governments said in a joint statement that they would send back their respective ambassadors, “reestablish air connectivity” and “maintain an open and respectful diplomatic dialogue.”

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.

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