Chavez, Clinton shake hands, chat amid tensions


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton shook hands and chatted briefly yesterday 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 handshake came as leaders were milling about at the inauguration of new Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. It was unclear what Chavez and Clinton discussed.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, second left, shakes hands with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, right, next to Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera during the inauguration ceremony of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, unseen, at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, yesterday. (Photo:AP)

 

 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, second left, shakes hands with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, right, next to Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera during the inauguration ceremony of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, unseen, at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, yesterday.

 

 

 

Both governments have shown firmly entrenched stances in the past week as the United States revoked the Venezuelan ambassador’s visa in response to Chavez’s refusal to accept the chosen US envoy.

"They thought we were going to back down. Anything negative that happens will be the responsibility of the United States," veteran Venezuelan diplomat Roy Chaderton told the Caracas-based television channel Telesur on Thursday.

Chaderton, a close Chavez ally and former foreign minister, said the Venezuelan government is "studying the case with sensitivity … and will make the respective decisions".

Chavez has skipped opportunities to respond during the past few days, saying nothing about the US government’s decision to revoke the visa of his ambassador, Bernardo Alvarez. President Barack Obama’s administration took that step in response to Chavez’s rejection of Larry Palmer, who has been awaiting Senate confirmation.

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