POLITICS

Panama FM cuts short trip to Spain as Venezuela breaks off relations

03/06/2014 08:29 EST | Updated 05/06/2014 05:59 EDT
MADRID - Panama's foreign minister has cut short an official trip to Spain and is returning home after Venezuela announced it would break off diplomatic relations with his country.

Francisco Alvarez de Soto said in a message on his Twitter account that he was returning after speaking with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday he would break ties with Panama, accusing it of being a "lackey" of the United States in what he has repeatedly called a conspiracy to topple his government.

The Panamanian embassy in Madrid confirmed the minister's decision and said he was due to leave Thursday morning.

Alvarez de Soto arrived in Spain Tuesday and had been expected to meet his Spanish counterpart later Thursday.