US says Venezuela vote audit 'necessary step'

An audit of the results in Venezuela's tightly contested weekend presidential election would be an "important, prudent and necessary step," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.

Carney's comment came as authorities in Venezuela said acting president Nicolas Maduro would soon formally be proclaimed the winner of Sunday's vote to succeed the late Hugo Chavez, despite calls from his rival for a full recount.

"We congratulate the Venezuelan people for their peaceful and orderly participation in this electoral process," Carney told reporters.

He added that given the "tightness of the result," a vote audit "appears an important, prudent and necessary step to ensure that all Venezuelans have confidence in these results."

Maduro, Chavez's handpicked political heir, on Sunday won 50.7 percent of the vote, to 49.1 percent for opposition leader Henrique Capriles, according to Venezuelan electoral authorities.

"In our view, rushing to a decision in these circumstances would be inconsistent with the expectations of Venezuelans for a clear and democratic outcome," Carney said.

At the State Department, spokesman Patrick Ventrell echoed Carney's comments, saying: "I noted that the opposition has called for an investigation of allegations of irregularities... we encourage that investigation to happen."

The United States and Venezuela have not had ambassadors posted in each other's capitals since 2010.