The United States has ordered the expulsion of Venezuela's consul general in Miami amid reports linking the diplomat to an alleged Iranian plot to target sensitive US facilities with cyber attacks, the US state department has said.
The US action comes as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was to kick off a Latin American tour in Caracas later yesterday.
In Caracas, President Hugo Chavez made no mention of the consul's expulsion in his yesterday's radio and TV program but accused Washington of "inventing" Iranian plots to attack the US from Latin American countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.
For the US to say "no country should get close to Iran really is a laugh," Chavez said.
The Venezuelan embassy in Washington was notified Friday that Livia Acosta Noguera, the consul general in Miami, had been declared persona non grata and had until Tuesday to leave the country, said State Department spokesman William Ostick.
In accordance with Article 23 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the department declared Ms Livia Acosta Noguera, Venezuelan consul general to Miami, to be persona non grata. As such, she must depart the United States by January 10," he said.
"We cannot comment on specific details behind the decision to declare Ms Acosta persona non grata at this time," he added in a statement.
The state department had said last month it was looking into "very disturbing" allegations that Acosta was a participant in an alleged Iranian plot to launch cyber-attacks on sensitive US national security facilities.