US denies any Venezuela plot

The United States on Monday emphatically denied it was involved in any plot against Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles ahead of the April 14 presidential vote.

"Let me say it here extremely clearly... the United States categorically rejects allegations of any US government involvement in any plots to destabilize the Venezuelan government or to harm anyone in Venezuela," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Capriles, whom the late president Hugo Chavez defeated in October elections, is running in the upcoming election against Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's handpicked successor.

Maduro told the private Televen station at the weekend the US-planned plot aims to "blame the government" for an attack and "create chaos in Venezuela."

He accused the CIA and the Pentagon, as well as former US diplomats Roger Noriega and Otto Reich, who also served as US ambassador to Venezuela, of planning the scheme.

Maduro also alleged opposition groups were involved, and vowed his government would provide "protection for all presidential candidates," and in particular Capriles.

But Capriles, the governor of Miranda state, took to Twitter to say Maduro would be to blame for "anything that happens."

Washington and Caracas have had strained diplomatic ties ever since Chavez first came to power in 1999. They have not had ambassadors in their respective capitals since 2010.