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US Military Denies Plane Entered Venezuela Airspace

The U.S. military is denying a claim by Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez that a U.S. military plane entered his country's airspace.

President Chavez says that he ordered two F-16 jets to intercept what he said was a U.S. P-3 aircraft over his country Friday. The Venezuelan leader says the American plane twice entered his country's airspace from the nearby Netherlands Antilles.

But a spokeswoman for the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, Air Force Sergeant. Shanda De Anda, said Saturday that no U.S. plane few into Venezuelan airspace. She said the U.S. does not fly over another nation's airspace "without prior consent and coordination."

Last month, Mr. Chavez accused the Netherlands of allowing the U.S. to use the Dutch-owned Caribbean islands to prepare an attack on Venezuela. The United States has called that assertion "baseless."

Venezuela's president also accused the United States of launching a spy plane from Colombia in December into Venezuelan airspace. He vowed then to shoot down any such aircraft in the future.

Ties between Venezuela and Colombia have been strained since early 2009 when Colombia agreed to give U.S. troops more access to its military bases.

The U.S. and Colombia insist the agreement is solely for anti-drug operations.

The U.S. Southern Command is responsible for U.S. security operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.