US denies jet flew over Venezuela

Pentagon's reaction follows allegation by President Chavez of airspace violation.

    Venezuela's ties with the US and Colombia have been strained by a row over a military base deal [EPA]

    In addition, a senior Barack Obama administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the administration was unaware of any incidents involving US government aircraft in Venezuelan airspace.

    US military officials "are unaware of any US government plane within 300 plus nautical miles of Venezuelan airspace today", the official said on Friday.

    Chavez said he ordered two F-16 jets to intercept the US fighter jet, which he described as a P-3, after two incursions lasting 15 and 19 minutes each.

    Dutch connection

    In December, Chavez said the US military was using Dutch islands off Venezuela's Caribbean coast - Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao - as a staging area for a possible attack.

    The Netherlands has denied the claims.

    "We're not inventing anything when we say the government of Holland must assume their responsibilities," Chavez said on Friday.

    "We are here ready to defend Venezuela's sovereignty. ... We accuse the governments of the United States and Holland of launching provocative actions against Venezuela, to find an excuse to attack Venezuela."

    Venezuela suspended diplomatic relations with Colombia in July in response to a US-Colombian military base deal, denouncing it as a military threat to the sovereignty of Latin American countries and saying it paved the way for a possible attack against Venezuela.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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