March 12, 2013 9:19:52 AM
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration has expelled two Venezuelan diplomats in retaliation for Venezuela's expulsion of two U.S. military attaches.
Washington wants to repair ties with Venezuela after Hugo Chavez's death but has made little headway so far. Shortly before Chavez died last week, Venezuela expelled two U.S. Air Force attaches in Caracas for alleged espionage. The Obama administration waited until after Chavez's funeral on Friday to announce any reciprocal action.
The U.S. action comes as Venezuela prepares for an April election to choose a new leader.
On Saturday, junior Venezuelan diplomats Orlando Jose Montanez Olivares and Victor Camacaro Mata were ordered to return home, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Monday.
Montanez, an official at the embassy in Washington, and Camacaro, who served in Venezuela's New York consulate, left the United States on Sunday.
The U.S. expulsions amount to standard diplomatic retaliation.