Wed, May 17, 2006 - Page 1 News List

US turns screws on Chavez

AFP , WASHINGTON

The US on Monday imposed military sanctions on Venezuela, a main oil supplier, accusing President Hugo Chavez's leftist government of failing to cooperate in the US-led "war on terror."

Venezuela "earned their spot honestly" on the list of countries whose cooperation is unsatisfactory, said US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

McCormack cited US concerns over Caracas' ties with Iran and Cuba, which Washington considers state sponsors of terrorism, and their "intelligence-sharing relationship, which has made it very difficult for the US to work on anti-terrorism efforts with them [Venezuela]."

"If you have a reasonable or rational expectation that somehow information that you share with them might make its way to just the groups that you're trying to combat, that's certainly negative," he said.

The US sanctions ban arm sales and technology transfers to Venezuela, another State Department spokesman said.

"We are certifying to Congress that Venezuela is not fully coop-erating with US anti-terrorism efforts," Eric Watnik, a spokesman for the State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, told reporters.

"US sales and licenses for the export of defense articles and services to Venezuela, including the retransfer of defense articles, will not be permitted," he said.

Chavez immediately slammed the US action as "a demonstration of the empire's policy against Earth's smaller countries."

However, Chavez, who spoke during a short visit in London, said he would not suspend oil exports to the US.

"I am conscious of my responsibilities," the socialist leader said.

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