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US, Venezuelan officials meet amid rising diplomatic tension

Caracas, PTI | Updated : 03 March 2015, 08:39 AM

The head of the US diplomatic mission in Caracas had a rare meeting today with Venezuela’s foreign minister amid rising tensions between the two countries.

President Nicolas Maduro announced over the weekend that the government had detained American spies and would be taking steps to shrink the US Embassy staff.

In its announcement of today’s meeting with Foreign Relations Minister Delcy Rodriguez, the Venezuelan government twice misspelled the name of US Chargé d’Affaires Lee McClenny as “Clenny.”

Maduro regularly rails against the US for meddling in his country’s affairs, and has taken to leading weekly chants of ”Gringo, go home.” The US has not exchanged ambassadors with the socialist South American country since 2010.

On Saturday, he laid out a series of measures against US diplomats and tourists, including a promise to limit the number of US diplomats and impose a tourist visa requirement.

Meanwhile, four North Dakota missionaries detained and then deported from Venezuela last week were recovering on the nearby island of Aruba Monday. Their pastor said they were expected home tomorrow.

It’s unclear whether the missionaries were the Americans Maduro was referring to when he said the government had arrested US citizens engaged in espionage. Maduro also said the government had detained a US pilot of Latino origin who was “carrying all kinds of documentation.” US officials have declined to comment on the identity of the pilot

First Published: Tuesday, March 03, 2015 08:31 AM
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