Venezuela Expels US Officials on Conspiracy Charges

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has expelled three U.S. consular officials after accusing them of encouraging violence and conspiring with students and anti-government protestors.

"It's a group of U.S. functionaries who are in the universities," Maduro said on national television. "We've been watching them having meetings in the private universities for two months. They work in visas."

The move follows two weeks of anti-government protests that left at least three people dead.

The United States criticized the Venezuelan government's handling of the protests.

"We are particularly alarmed by reports that the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained scores of anti-government protestors and issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

"These actions have a chilling effect on citizens' rights to express their grievances peacefully," he said.

President Maduro said the United States is taking the side of the opposition in an attempt to destabilize his government and topple him.

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