US Expels Venezuela Diplomat as Iran Leader Arrives in Caracas
Monsters and Critics
Jan 8, 2012
Washington- The United States Sunday said it would expel a Venezuelan diplomat, the very same day that Caracas prepared to receive a visit from Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Venezuela's consul in Miami, Livia Acosta Noguera, was declared 'persona non grata' and was expected to leave before Tuesday, according to an announcement by the US State Department.
The reason for expelling her was not clear. The Miami Herald reported there were allegations that she had discussed possible cyber attacks on US soil. The FBI had investigated the allegations that were contained in a documentary aired on Univision, a Spanish language broadcaster, about the 'Iranian threat.'
William Ostick, a spokesperson for the US Department of State, said the US had informed the Venezuelan embassy on Friday that Acosta Noguera had been declared persona non grata.
'We cannot comment on specific details behind he decision,' Ostick said.
On Friday, the US warned Latin American countries against strengthening ties with Iran as Ahmadinejad prepared to visit the region. He was to arrive Sunday in Caracas at the start of a five-day tour which will take him to Nicaragua Tuesday and then on to Cuba and Ecuador.
'We are making absolutely clear to countries around the world that now is not the time to be deepening ties, not security ties, not economic ties, with Iran,' she said.
Experts have noted that Iran is reaching out to Latin America, in particular the left-leaning countries within the region, in an effort to side-step economic sanctions against its refusal to comply with international demands about its nuclear programme.
In recent weeks, Tehran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, where some 35 per cent of the world's seaborne oil passes, if the West imposes new sanctions in reaction to Iran's disputed nuclear programme.