Chávez dares U.S. to cut diplomatic ties with Caracas

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has dared the United States to cut diplomatic relations amid a dispute over the White House’s choice of a new ambassador in Caracas.

Chávez said Tuesday that the U.S. can do whatever it wants, but diplomat Larry Palmer will not be coming to Venezuela.

Palmer was nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Venezuela four months ago. The U.S. State Department has said Venezuela’s rejection of his appointment will have consequences for the countries’ already strained relations.

Chávez said Tuesday that an ambassador coming to Caracas must respect the country.

His government has complained about comments Palmer made in Washington in September, saying morale is low in the Venezuelan military and that the government has ties with Colombian rebels.

State Department officials in Washington say the United States has full confidence in Palmer.

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