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US, Venezuela evict ambassadors in diplomatic spat

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By Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dared the U.S. to expel his ambassador in retaliation for his move to reject the U.S. envoy to the South American country.

On Wednesday, that's just what the Obama administration did.

Chavez issued his dare a day earlier, saying he would not allow the U.S. diplomat, Larry Palmer, to be ambassador because the U.S. official made what Chavez described as blatantly disrespectful remarks about Venezuela.

"If the government is going to expel our ambassador there, let them do it," Chavez said, adding, "If they're going to cut diplomatic relations, let them do it."

U.S. diplomats familiar with the situation said the decision to revoke Bernardo Alvarez Herrera's visa came after Chavez's decision to withdraw his approval of Palmer. The diplomats said Alvarez is currently not in the U.S.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Palmer, who is awaiting Senate confirmation, angered Chavez by suggesting earlier this year that morale is low in Venezuela's military and that he is concerned Colombian rebels are finding refuge in Venezuela.


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