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    Thursday, March 21, 2013

    Venezuela Cuts Off Talks With US

    Venezuela said Wednesday it has suspended a "channel of communications" with Washington as it ratchets up tension ahead of elections to replace the late president Hugo Chavez.

    Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said the move was a response to "interventionist statements" by US assistant secretary of state Roberta Jacobson, who called for "open, fair and transparent" elections on 14 April.

    "This channel of communication is suspended at this time, deferred until there is a clear message on what type of relationship the United States wants with Venezuela," Jaua said.

    "It makes no sense to continue wasting time," he added.

    Venezuela's acting President Nicolas Maduro is running against opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chavez in October elections and is regarded as facing an uphill battle against Maduro as well.

    Chavez, who dominated Venezuela during his 14 years of power, died of cancer on 5 March after a long illness that unsettled the political landscape.

    Maduro said in January that he had had contacts with Washington in late 2012 through the Venezuelan ambassador at the Organization of American States, which he said were authorized by Chavez.
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