US kicks out Venezuelan envoy

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. has expelled Venezuela's ambassador and accused two senior Venezuelan government officials of aiding drug traffickers in Colombia.

The move comes after Venezuela and Bolivia tossed the American ambassadors out of their countries earlier this week.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack condemned the expulsions, saying the moves reflect "the weakness and desperation" of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Separately, the Treasury Department announced sanctions against two high-ranking Venezuelan intelligence officials and a former government minister. Officials say the three materially assisted the drug trafficking activities of the Colombian terrorist group, known as the FARC.

McCormack says the sanctions had been in the works for some time and are unrelated to the diplomatic dispute.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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