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Venezuela suspends communication with U.S. diplomat: FM


09:01, March 21, 2013

CARACAS, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Wednesday that his country has suspended an informal communication channel to improve relations with the United States due to comments by a U.S. diplomat over the presidential elections next month.

"I hope there is a correction and removal of U.S. interference, " said Jaua at a press conference, recalling that the channel of communication was created by Roberta Jacobson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, last November.

But Jaua accused Jacobson of violating Venezuela's sovereignty after his recent statements about the upcoming April 14 presidential elections to select a successor to late President Hugo Chavez.

"All diplomatic and consular relations (with United States) are maintained," said the minister, stressing that only the private channel with Jacobson is suspended.

Jacobson told Spain's El Pais newspaper last week that Venezuelans deserved a free and fair election, as well as a free press.

Nevertheless, Jaua reiterated that the only transition in Venezuela is toward socialism, led by Chavez, the late leader of the Bolivarian Revolution.

Jaua announced the decision during a ceremony to award Venezuelan diplomats Camacaro Victor Olivares Mata and Orlando Montanez, who were expelled from the United States on March 9 in retaliation for the South American nation's expulsion of two U.S. military attaches.

"They were expelled unfairly as a measure of retaliation against the necessary and indispensable measure taken by the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela," said Jaua.

The Venezuelan government announced on March 5, the same day 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 country.

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. The two countries have not had each other's ambassador since July 2010.

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