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Press Watchdog Studying Conditions in Venezuela

A U.S.-based press watchdog group has sent a delegation to Venezuela to study allegations of repression against journalists in the country.

Members of the Inter American Press Association say they hoped to discuss the concerns with officials, but add Information Minister William Lara had refused to meet them.

Tuesday, the delegation visited the offices of Correo del Caroni newspaper, which local lawmakers had slated for demolition.

In a report last year, the group said press freedom is "seriously threatened" in Venezuela, and accused officials of persecuting opposition journalists.

It also expressed concern about recent laws that restrict television and radio broadcasts.

Venezuela's government has defended the laws, saying they are intended to raise media standards and not limit free speech.