US not to blame for Venezuela woes: Kerry

AFP , Wednesday 26 Feb 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks before opening the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission Plenary Session with Georgia's Prime Minister Irakly Garibashvili at the State Department in Washington February 26, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

US Secretary of State John Kerry denied Wednesday that Washington was behind a wave of protests in Venezuela, adding that tensions between the two countries have lasted too long.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has convened talks with social and political actors in an attempt to end three weeks of sometimes deadly anti-government protests in the deeply divided country.

Kerry said "regrettably, President Maduro, keeps choosing to blame the United States for things we are not doing or for things that they are unhappy about in their own economy and in their own society."

He has pushed for a renewal of ties between the two countries, which have not had full ambassadors since 2010, reflecting the bad blood between the trade partners since late president Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999.

"We're prepared to have a change in this relationship, this tension between our countries has gone on for too long in our view," Kerry said.

"But we are not going to sit around and be blamed for things we have never done," he added.

On Tuesday, the US State Department announced the expulsion of three Venezuelan embassy official, a tit-for-tat move after Caracas kicked out three American diplomats last week

"We would like to move forward in the relationship. And hopefully Venezuela will begin to deal with its own internal problems and position itself so that we can engage thoughtfully," Kerry said.

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