US denies effort to sanction Venezuela

The United States on Tuesday denied charges it was considering sanctions against Venezuela over its disputed election after the country's left-leaning leader warned of retaliation.

"I'm not aware of any particular effort afoot in terms of sanctions on Venezuela at this point," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters.

President Nicolas Maduro, heir to the late firebrand Hugo Chavez, on Monday accused the United States of threatening Venezuela as he swore in a cabinet after he was declared the victor of the election by a razor-thin margin.

Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said that if the United States "takes recourse to economic sanctions, or sanctions of any other kind, we will take measures of a commercial, energy, economic and political order that we consider necessary."

The remarks came after Roberta Jacobson, the assistant US secretary of state in charge of Latin America, was quoted in an interview as not responding one way or another when asked whether the United States would impose sanctions if Venezuela refused a vote recount sought by the opposition.

"I think the Venezuelan side may have looked at that and read into (it) we're considering something, and I'm saying that that's not something that we're currently contemplating at this moment," Ventrell said of sanctions.

The United States, which had tense relations with Chavez, as well as the European Union have called for an "audit" of votes from the April 14 election. Leading Latin American nations, however, have recognized Maduro.

Despite frosty relations, Venezuela exports 900,000 barrels of oil a day to the United States. Venezuela, which depends on oil sales for 90 percent of its revenues, sits atop the world's largest proven crude oil reserves.