03/06/13 - Voice of America - US Officials Expected to Attend Chavez Funeral
The United States is expected to send a delegation to Hugo Chavez's funeral
later this week in a move that could send a conciliatory message to
Venezuela now that its stridently anti-American leader has died.
Senior U.S. officials also said on Wednesday that Washington had no
immediate plans to respond in kind to Venezuela's expulsion of two U.S.
military attaches, which was announced on Tuesday by Vice President Nicolas
Maduro just hours before he told the world of Chavez's death.
Maduro, Chavez's chosen successor, said on Tuesday that one of the expelled
U.S. diplomats tried to stir up a military plot against Chavez. He also
said Chavez's cancer was an attack by Venezuela's enemies - an accusation
the United States dismissed as absurd.
A senior State Department official said the United States was reviewing its
response to Venezuela's expulsion of the two military officials and said it
had the right to reciprocate in kind but for now it would not be doing so.
The U.S. Embassy in Caracas has been without an ambassador since 2010, when
Chavez rejected the U.S. appointee. That led Washington to revoke the
credentials of Venezuela's ambassador.
U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement shortly after Chavez's death
was announced, expressing an interest in a "constructive relationship" in
the post-Chavez era. But analysts said Washington would be challenged to
figure out a way to engage with Venezuelan leaders and the opposition
without appearing to meddle in the South American oil-producing nation.
The senior State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
said the United States would like a "more functional" relationship with the
Venezuelan government going forward.
The official said it was too early to tell how the situation would evolve
but said the United States was expected to send a delegation to Chavez's
funeral, which will be held on Friday. Details of who will be included in
the delegation will be announced by the White House.
There have been no signs of security threats in Venezuela since Chavez's
death, the official said.
"We have no indication right now that there is any threat to our personnel
or Americans in Venezuela," the official said. "After you have the kind of
broadside that Vice President Maduro launched against the United States
yesterday we obviously have security concerns and will remain very
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