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U.S. expels Venezuelan diplomats in retaliation


09:32, March 12, 2013

WASHINGTON, March 11 (Xinhua) -- The United States said on Monday that it has expelled two Venezuelan diplomats in retaliation for the South American nation's expulsion of two U.S. military attaches last week.

"We're in response to the Venezuelan government's actions against two of our personnel, we did inform the Venezuelan government on March 9 that in accordance with article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and article 23 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, that we had declared two of their second secretaries persona non grata," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

The targeted envoys are from the Venezuelan embassy in Washington and the consulate in New York respectively, Nuland told reporters at a regular news briefing.

"And they have now departed the country," she added.

The Venezuelan government announced on March 5, the same day President Hugo Chavez died of cancer, that two U.S. military attaches were being expelled from Venezuela for participating in illegal acts that promote destabilization of the nation.

The two attaches were accused of contacting Venezuelan military officers and proposing plots to destabilize Venezuela's military. They were declared persona non grata and asked to leave the country within 24 hours.

Caracas also accused Washington of being behind Chavez's cancer, saying the government has started an investigation.

U.S.-Venezuela relations have strained in recent years, and the two countries have not had each other's ambassador since July 2010.

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