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OAS Head Will Not Push for Mission to Venezuela


The head of the Organization of American States says he will not press Venezuela to approve a mission to study questions about media freedom in the South American country. From Panama City, VOA's Brian Wagner reports the mission was proposed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the regional group's annual meeting.

In a closing news conference at the Panama City meeting of the Organization of American States, Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza dismissed a U.S. call for him to travel to Venezuela to investigate media freedom.

Insulza was asked whether he would follow up on Monday's request by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that he travel to Venezuela. Monday, Rice told delegates the recent closing of Venezuela's largest private television station has raised criticism by the international community and street protests in Venezuela.

Insulza says it is too early to consider sending a mission to Venezuela to discuss the government's decision not to renew the broadcasting license of Radio Caracas Television. He says Venezuelan courts and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights are considering several legal motions about the decision.

The OAS chief also says the OAS charter requires any official mission receive the consent of the country being visited.

Insulza says recent comments from Venezuelan officials suggest that there is no such consent and, therefore, the mission would not be possible.

Venezuela's delegate to the OAS meeting, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, condemned Secretary Rice's request as an attempt to intervene in his nation's government. He says an OAS mission should travel to the United States to probe alleged human rights violations there.

He says the OAS charter is intended to be a tool for dialogue and consensus, not a tool for isolating or pressuring countries.

The OAS chief tried to keep the issue of RCTV off the agenda during the annual assembly, which was called to address energy concerns across the region. However, delegates from several countries issued comments on the matter and Panamanian journalists organized a protest to reject restrictions on press freedom.

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