Washington: The Obama administration has revoked the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador to the United States in a tit-for-tat diplomatic response to Venezuela`s rejection of the US choice to be the next envoy to the South American country.
Diplomats familiar with the situation said the decision to revoke Bernardo Alvarez Herrera`s visa came after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez withdrew his approval of the administration`s choice to represent the US in Caracas, Larry Palmer. The diplomats said Alvarez is currently not in the US.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly on the matter.
State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said the US has taken "appropriate, proportional and reciprocal action”.
Earlier, the United States on Wednesday said keeping diplomatic relations with Venezuela was of "national interest”.
"Our position remains that we believe it`s in our national interest to maintain diplomatic relations with Venezuela," US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
Chavez on Tuesday dared Washington to "cut off diplomatic relations" over his opposition to President Barack Obama`s choice of Larry Palmer as new ambassador. Palmer was highly critical of Chavez during his US Senate confirmation hearings months ago.
"If the (US) government wants to expel our ambassador there, let them! If they cut off diplomatic relations, let them," Chavez said on state television.