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The United States denied Friday that Secretary of State John Kerry threatened Venezuela with reprisals if it gave asylum to US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.
Venezuela is one of a handful of Latin American countries that has offered refuge to the fugitive former government contractor, who has asked for temporary asylum in Moscow.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf confirmed that Kerry spoke about Snowden by telephone on July 12 with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua.
But she denied as "completely false" a report in the Spanish newspaper ABC that Kerry had threatened to suspend sales of gasoline or oil products to Caracas if it granted Snowden asylum.
"The secretary made no reference in his conversation with Foreign Minister Jaua as to what our response would be if Venezuela were to assist Mr. Snowden or receive him," she said, reading from a statement.
"Instead, Secretary Kerry conveyed to the Foreign Minister that Mr. Snowden is accused of serious criminal offenses and should be returned to the United States to face those charges if he were to come into Venezuelan jurisdiction."
"Should Venezuela assist Mr Snowden or receive him, we will consider what the appropriate response should be at that time," she said.