Chavez, Clinton shake hands, chat amid tensions

The encounter Saturday came only three days after the United States revoked the visa of Venezuela's ambassador in Washington, in reprisal for Chavez's rejection of the US president's appointed ambassador to Caracas.

Chavez, Clinton shake hands, chat amid tensions

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton shook hands and chatted briefly Saturday in a rare cordial encounter amid a diplomatic dispute that has left Venezuela and the United States without ambassadors in each other's capitals.

The encounter Saturday came only three days after the United States revoked the visa of Venezuela's ambassador in Washington, in reprisal for Chavez's rejection of the US president's appointed ambassador to Caracas.

The handshake came as leaders were milling about at the inauguration of new Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. It was unclear what Chavez and Clinton discussed.

Chavez later described the interaction as a pleasant one, though he did not give much detail.

"We greeted each other," he told reporters at the Brasilia airport. "She had a very spontaneous smile and I greeted her with the same effusiveness."

Chavez and Clinton mingled with the presidents of Chile and Colombia and the prime minister of Portugal while waiting to meet Rousseff.

At one point, Chavez extended his hand to Clinton, who shook it, smiling. They chatted for a few minutes before moving on to formally greeting Rousseff.

Chavez on Tuesday reaffirmed his decision to reject diplomat Larry Palmer as President Barack Obama's ambassador-designate to Caracas, and challenged Washington to break off diplomatic relations if it didn't like it.

The State Department responded the following day by revoking the visa of Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez, who was in Venezuela on vacation.


Agencies



Related news reports:

Tensions rising as US revokes Venezuelan ambassador's visa

Last Mod: 02 Ocak 2011, 13:04
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