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U.S. expels three Venezuelan diplomats, gives them 48 hours to leave

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday gave three Venezuelan diplomats 48 hours to leave the country in a tit-for-tat reprisal over a decision by Caracas last week to expel three U.S. diplomats.

Venezuela accused the Americans of recruiting students to lead protests in Caracas against President Nicolas Maduro. Washington called the accusations "baseless and false".

The State Department said Venezuela's First Secretary Ignacio Luis Cajal Avalos, First Secretary Victor Manuel Pisani Azpurua, and Second Secretary Marcos Jose Garcia Figueredo, had been declared personae non gratae.

"This convention permits the United States to declare any member of a diplomatic mission persona non grata at any time and without the necessity to state a reason," the State Department said citing the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

(The story corrects timeline to 48 hours from 24)

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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