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US Revokes Visa of Venezuelan Ambassador

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks during a news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, 22 Dec 2010

The United States has revoked the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador to Washington Bernardo Alvarez, in apparent retaliation for Caracas' rejection of Washington's nominee for U.S. ambassador.

Earlier, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said there could be "consequences" because of Venezuela's objections to having Larry Palmer serve as the U.S. envoy in Caracas. But Toner declined to elaborate on what those consequences might be.

Toner also said it was in the United States' "national interest" to maintain diplomatic communications with Venezuela at the highest level. Toner made the comments after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dared the United States to "cut diplomatic relations" over the dispute involving Palmer.

The ambassador-designate was nominated for the position in Caracas several months ago. Venezuela has complained about comments by Palmer, who has said morale is low in the Venezuelan military and that the government in Caracas has ties with Colombian leftist rebels. President Chavez has said an ambassador coming to Caracas must respect Venezuela.

The State Department has said the U.S. has full confidence in Palmer, whose nomination requires approval by the U.S. Senate.