Venezuelan foreign minister Nicolas Maduro was detained and released at the John F Kennedy Airport in Washington, a Venezuelan official said.
The altercation occurred at the security screening, where he was asked to go through a second security check, a news channel reported on Saturday.
Maduro was preparing to speak to reporters in New York, the Venezuelan press attache at the UN said. She confirmed that Maduro was still in country.
The incident occurred days after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called US President George Bush "the devil" before the UN General Assembly. His remarks provoked outrage among Bush critics and supporters alike.
The news channel reported that Maduro told their Spanish language broadcaster that he was detained for 90 minutes after he reached out to pick up an item that had been screened at the security checkpoint.
He then declined to depart the country and said the incident showed how the US abuses its power, the news channel reported on its website.