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U.S. sending low-profile delegation to Chavez funeral

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Washington, Mar 7 (EFE).- The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that two politicians and the U.S. charge d'affaires in Caracas will represent President Barack Obama's administration at the funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The delegation will be comprised of former Massachusetts Congressman William Delahunt, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York and diplomat James Derham, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at her daily press briefing.

The delegation has quite a low profile compared with those being sent by the majority of countries in the Western Hemisphere.

The U.S. government expressed its condolences to the Venezuelan people over the loss of Chavez, who died Tuesday after a 21-month-long battle with cancer.

Nevertheless, Washington has not hidden its indignation over the expulsion of two U.S. military officers from its embassy in Caracas and on Thursday Nuland once again "categorically" denied that either man had violated Venezuelan law.

"We are obviously disappointed by these false accusations levied against our embassy officials," Nuland said. "This is part of a tired playbook of alleging foreign interference as a political football in internal Venezuelan politics."

Caracas accused the U.S. air attache and his aide of seeking to enlist Venezuelan military officers in "destabilization projects."

The State Department continues to evaluate the possibility of responding to the expulsions with a reciprocal action and still has not made a decision on that matter, Nuland said.

At least 22 heads of state and government, including Spain's Crown Prince Felipe, and top-level delegations from 54 countries are scheduled to attend the state funeral on Friday in Caracas.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130307/us-sending-low-profile-delegation-chavez-funeral