The Obama administration says it may nominate a new ambassador to Venezuela after the government in Caracas objected to the previous candidate, Larry Palmer.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Monday that the United States believes it is important to have an ambassador at the post in the Venezuelan capital. Crowley also said the administration regrets that the Venezuelan government rejected Palmer for the position.
Venezuela had complained about Palmer's comments that morale is low in the Venezuelan military and that Caracas has ties with Colombian leftist rebels. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said an ambassador heading to Caracas must respect Venezuela.
Late last year, Washington revoked the entry visa of the Venezuelan ambassador in response to Caracas' rejection of Palmer, whose nomination would have required Senate confirmation. The State Department said after revoking the visa that the U.S. had taken "appropriate, proportional and reciprocal action."
Crowley's remarks Monday came two days after Venezuela's president and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met briefly amid the dispute that has left their countries without ambassadors in either Caracas or Washington.
President Chavez and Secretary Clinton crossed paths Saturday in Brazil, where they were both attending the inauguration of Dilma Rousseff as that country's first woman president.
Crowley said Chavez greeted Secretary Clinton, who returned the greeting. Crowley also said Clinton was with other leaders who joined in the conversation, and that it went quickly from being a brief greeting to a broader but still informal and brief conversation. Crowley said he does not know what the two discussed.