Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has accused the United States of supporting an alleged separatist movement in Venezuela's oil-rich Zulia state.
Mr. Chavez said on Venezuelan television this week that the United States backs an effort in Zulia state by a group called Rumbo Propio, or "our own path," to hold a referendum on breaking away from the government in Caracas.
The head of the ruling MVR party, William Lara, has accused the U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, of meeting with the group. But the U.S. embassy in Caracas told the Daily Journal newspaper there is no record of such a meeting.
Officials announced this week that Rumbo Propio is under investigation for possible treason.
President Chavez has repeatedly accused the United States of plotting to overthrow his government.