Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez dares United States to cut diplo­matic ties

The Pak Banker - - 6i Nternational -

CARA­CAS: Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Hugo Chavez dared the United States to ex­pel his am­bas­sador or cut off diplo­matic ties in re­tal­i­a­tion for his re­jec­tion of Washington's choice for am­bas­sador to Cara­cas.

Ten­sions have been grow­ing over Chavez's re­fusal to ac­cept Amer­i­can diplo­mat Larry Palmer and also over U.S. crit­i­cisms of a leg­isla­tive of­fen­sive by the pres­i­dent's con­gres­sional al­lies. Law­mak­ers have granted Chavez ex­panded pow­ers to en­act laws by de­cree for the next year and a half, a change that op­po­nents con­demn as an­tidemo­cratic.

Chavez has said he will not ac­cept Palmer to be am­bas­sador due to com­ments he made ear­lier this year sug­gest­ing that morale is low in Venezuela's mil­i­tary and that he is concerned Colom­bian rebels are find­ing refuge in Venezuela.

The U.S. State Depart­ment has said it stands be­hind its nom­i­na­tion of Palmer, who is await­ing Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion. State Depart­ment spokesman P.J. Crow­ley said last week that Venezuela's de­ci­sion to re­ject Palmer - af­ter ini­tially giv­ing con­sent - will have con­se­quences on re­la­tions with Cara­cas, and that the U.S. govern­ment will eval­u­ate what to do. "If the govern­ment is go­ing to ex­pel our am­bas­sador there, let them do it!," Chavez said in a tele­vised speech Tues­day night. "If they're go­ing to cut diplo­matic re­la­tions, let them do it!"

"Now the U.S. govern­ment is threat­en­ing us that they're go­ing to take reprisals. Well, let them do what­ever they want, but that man will not come," Chavez said.

There was no im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion from the U.S. Em­bassy in Cara­cas, which has been with­out an am­bas­sador since Pa­trick Duddy fin­ished his as­sign­ment and left in July.

Chavez, whose econ­omy re­lies heav­ily on oil sales to the United States, has ac­cused Palmer of dis­hon­or­ing the Venezue­lan govern­ment by ex­press­ing con­cerns on sev­eral sen­si­tive sub­jects - in­clud­ing 2008 ac­cu­sa­tions by the U.S. Trea­sury Depart­ment that three mem­bers of Chavez's in­ner cir­cle helped Colom­bian rebels by sup­ply­ing arms and aid­ing drug-traf­fick­ing op­er­a­tions. "For an am­bas­sador to come, he has to re­spect this home­land," Chavez said. -Ap

NEW DELHI: In­dian En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Jairam Ramesh speaks dur­ing a press con­fer­ence. -Ap

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