Reuters quoted state department sources as saying that Patrick Duddy, who was expelled from Caracas in September, would return there.

His counterpart Bernardo Alvarez is expected in Washington this week.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, who had been a fierce critic of Washington, met Barack Obama, his US counterpart, for the first time at a Trinidad summit in April.

Chavez said then he hoped to begin a "new era" in relations between the two countries, which have often feuded over Washington's role in Latin America.

The news of the restoration of Venezuela-US ties came as a US official confirmed that Washington planned to reappoint an ambassador to Damascus after a four-year absence.