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Venezuela Calls on US to Stop Meddling

Venezuela is demanding that the U.S. stop meddling in its internal affairs, one day after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labeled the South American nation as one of the biggest problems in the region.

Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Mari Pili Hernandez said Friday that Venezuela wants the best relations with all countries; but she said Venezuelans also want respect for their country and sovereignty. Her comments came as representatives from Venezuela's government and the U.S. State Department met in Caracas in an apparent effort to ease tensions.

Secretary Rice Thursday called for a "united front" against Venezuela, which she said is attempting to steer its neighbors away from democratic processes. Rice cited Venezuela's close relationship with Cuba as a "particular danger" to the region.

Relations between Venezuela and the United States have grown increasingly strained since Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took office in 1999. He calls Rice's comments "crazy."

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP