US still seeks productive ties with Venezuela

Washington is still hoping for better ties with Venezuela even as the South American nation ratcheted up tensions by cutting off a channel of communications, a US official said Thursday.

"Notwithstanding the significant differences between our governments, we continue to believe it important to seek a functional and productive relationship with Venezuela based on issues of mutual interest," the official said, asking not to be named.

Announcing the break in communications on Wednesday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said the move was in response to "interventionist statements" by US assistant secretary of state Roberta Jacobson.

After the death of late president Hugo Chavez, Jacobson called for "open, fair and transparent" elections on April 14.

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro has also leveled a series of charges against the United States, including that it infected Chavez with the cancer which claimed his life at 58 years old.

"As we have said before, we categorically reject allegations of US government involvement in any plots to destabilize the Venezuelan government or to harm anyone in Venezuela," the US official said in a statement sent to AFP.

"The repetition of unsubstantiated and outlandish allegations by Venezuelan officials about US based plots is disappointing."

Venezuela and the United States have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010, and are represented in each other's capitals only by charge d'affairs. Tensions between the two countries have been rising since the day of Chavez's death, when Maduro announced the expulsion of two US military attaches.

Washington reciprocated by expelling two Venezuelan diplomats who were decorated on Wednesday by Jaua.

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