US revokes envoy's visa: Venezuelan deputy FM

"I can confirm. USA revoked the visa of ambassador Bernardo Alvarez," Temir Porras wrote in a tweet yesterday.

The US State Department refused to say whether Washington was prepared to expel Alvarez, who is currently visiting La Paz.

But a State Department spokesman reiterated earlier US warnings that there could be "consequences" over President Hugo Chavez's recent rejection of  Washington's nominee for ambassador to Caracas.

The two countries are longtime political adversaries, and US-Venezuela ties have been strained in recent years. Chavez has repeatedly denounced "American imperialism" and cultivated ties with US bugbears, including Cuba, Syria and Iran.

But yesterday, hours prior to the vice minister's tweet, the US said keeping diplomatic relations with Venezuela was of "national interest," after Chavez's challenge over Washington's appointed new US envoy.

"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.
Palmer's appointment is still awaiting Senate confirmation.

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