Maduro: No Cordial Ties until US Respects Venezuela's Sovereignty
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said there would be no "cordial ties" with the United States until Washington respects Venezuelan sovereignty.
His remarks on Tuesday came a day after he expelled US charge d'affaires Kelly Keiderling, the top US diplomat in the country, and two others, accusing them of meeting with right-wing opposition leaders and encouraging "acts of sabotage" against his country.
"Until the US government understands it has to respect Venezuela, which is a sovereign country, there will simply be no cordial relations, nor cordial communication," Maduro said at a cabinet meeting.
During the meeting, Maduro played a video showing the three US diplomats leaving a meeting with members of the political opposition in Puerto Ordaz, in southeast Bolivar state, home to Venezuela's main hydroelectric plant, Xinhua reported.
"This is the first video with elements that show that these agents accredited by the country, are trying to fish in troubled waters. They want to stir the waters, they have specific goals such as destabilizing the country," the president said.
A six-month investigation by the Venezuelan government showed that the three diplomats engaged in activities sabotaging the country's electrical and economic system, in conjunction with members of the far-right, Maduro said, adding that their actions were "illegal and interventionist."
Also on Tuesday, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki denied the allegations, insisting that the expelled diplomats " were there conducting normal diplomatic engagement."
Maduro said Venezuela will not resume contact with Washington " until US President Barack Obama rectifies" the current US policy toward Venezuela.
On Monday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua notified the US embassy in Caracas of the expulsions, giving the diplomats 48 hours to leave the country.
The US has had no ambassador in Caracas since September 2008, when then President Hugo Chavez expelled Patrick Duddy, then US ambassador to Venezuela, as a gesture of solidarity with Bolivia.