U.S. to renominate envoy to Venezuela

January 4, 2011 11:14 am 

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 — The United States announced on Monday that it will renominate an ambassador candidate for Venezuela, raising hope that the two states would resolve their diplomatic dispute resulting from Venezuela's rejection of the current nominee.

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that the nomination of Larry Palmer has expired, saying "we will have to renominate an ambassador candidate."

"I believe, you know, that Larry Palmer's nomination formally expired with the end of the last Congress, so among the issues that we'll be evaluated is what to do in light of the step that Venezuela, unfortunately, took," the spokesman said.

"We are interested in good relations with Venezuela, and obviously that involves, among other things, having ambassadors at post who can help to, you know, manage that engagement," Crowley told reporters at a regular press briefing.

The U.S. embassy in Venezuela has not seen an ambassador since July when Patrick Duddy ended his tenure and left. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been blocking U.S. nominee of Larry Palmer, alleging that Palmer had made blatantly disrespectful remarks about his country.

Palmer suggested earlier this year during his confirmation process that morale is low in Venezuela's military and that he was concerned Colombian rebels are finding refuge in Venezuela.

In a tit-for-tat response, the U.S. revoked the visa of the Venezuelan Ambassador to Washington Bernardo Alvarez on Dec. 29, prompting the South American country's condemnation of the move as "imperial" the next day.

As an OPEC member, Venezuela is the fifth biggest supplier of oil to U.S., but their relations have been strained in recent years over what Chavez has repeatedly denounced as "American imperialism."

"We believe it is important to have an ambassador, you know, at post, able to engage governments directly," Crowley told reporters. "In this case, you know, the government in Caracas. We regret that agreement was withdrawn on Ambassador Palmer. We thought that he would be an excellent interlocutor to help improve relations between our two countries."

He noted that Chavez greeted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the inauguration of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Saturday and Clinton returned the greeting. Besides, they had a "broader, but still informal and brief conversation." (PNA/Xinhua) ALM

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