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US Delegation Says it was Denied Entry Into Venezuela

U.S. officials say a group of U.S. congressmen was denied entry into Venezuela Monday after landing at the country's main airport near Caracas.

The delegation was led by Illinois Republican Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee. They had arrived in the country for a scheduled visit.

A U.S embassy official said the visit was canceled after Venezuelan officials kept the delegation's military jet on the tarmac for a least an hour without allowing the lawmakers to disembark.

Caracas airport official Jose Cabello denies this, saying the group made no attempt to contact Venezuelan authorities.

Relations between Washington and Caracas have been strained ever since populist President Hugo Chavez came to office in 1999. Mr. Chavez has repeatedly accused the Bush administration of planning to invade Venezuela. Washington denies any such plans, and warns that Mr. Chavez is becoming an authoritarian threat to Venezuela's democracy and regional stability.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.