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Rice Urges 'United Front' Against Venezuela

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is calling for a "united front" against Venezuela, which she says is attempting to steer its neighbors away from democratic processes.

Secretary Rice made the remarks Thursday before the House International Relations Committee. Rice also cited Venezuela's close relationship with Cuba as a "particular danger" to the region.

Rice's remarks came one day after the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, voiced opposition to a Venezuelan bid for a seat on the U.N. Security Council. Bolton said it would not be conducive to an effective and well-functioning Security Council.

Earlier, Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel was quoted by the Associated Press as saying the U.S. is trying to discredit Venezuela in front of the world to stop it from forming a part of the U.N. Security Council.

Relations between the United States and Venezuela have grown increasingly strained since Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took office in 1999.

But the two countries are trying to mend relations two weeks after expelling each other's diplomats in a dispute about alleged U.S. espionage.

Wednesday, the U.S. ambassador in Caracas, William Brownfield, said on Venezuelan television that Venezuela's ambassador to the United States, Bernardo Alvarez, met Tuesday in Washington with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.