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Venezuela ends rapprochement with US

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Venezuela late Friday said it has "ended" its rapprochement with the United States due to a statement by Samantha Power, nominated to become the US envoy to the United Nations.

Power said at a US Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday that if she got the job she would stand up to "repressive regimes" and challenge the "crackdown on civil society being carried out in countries like Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela."

Washington and Caracas have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010, even though Venezuela exports 900,000 barrels of oil per day to the United States.

"The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela hereby ends the process ... of finally normalizing our diplomatic relations" that began in early June,the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Venezuela is opposed to the "interventionist agenda" presented by Power, and noted that her "disrespectful opinions" were later endorsed by the State Department, "contradicting in tone and in content" earlier statements by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kerry and his Venezuelan counterpart, Elias Jaua, agreed on the sidelines of an Organization of American States meeting in Guatemala in June that officials would "soon" meet for talks that could lead to an exchange of ambassadors.

President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday said that Power's statement was "outrageous," and demanded an "immediate rectification" from Washington. Instead the US State Department on Friday defended Power.

President Barack Obama has yet to acknowledge the victory of Maduro -- the hand-picked successor of the late leftist icon Hugo Chavez -- in the April 14 presidential election.

Maduro won the controversial vote by a razor-thin margin in an election that his rival, centrist Henrique Capriles, has refused to concede.

During his 14 years at Venezuela's president Chavez regularly criticized US "imperialism" and courted US foes like Iran and Syria.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130720/venezuela-ends-rapprochement-us-0