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Venezuela orders US envoy to leave

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez asks the US ambassador to leave the country within 72 hours, in what he called an act of solidarity with neighbour Bolivia.

world Updated: Sep 12, 2008 13:20 IST

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has asked the US ambassador to leave the country within 72 hours, in what he called an act of solidarity with neighbour Bolivia in its diplomatic row with US.

Earlier on Thursday, Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled Washington's ambassador in La Paz, accusing him of assisting separatist movements in the country.

The United States called the step a "grave error" but responded by expelling Bolivia's ambassador in Washington.

Chavez late Thursday said Venezuela had recalled its ambassador from the United States in an act of solidarity with Bolivia and accused Washington of aiming to overthrow the government in La Paz.

He said Venezuela would send a new ambassador only when "there is a new government, one that respects the people of Latin America".

Chavez has been a vocal critic of Washington since coming to power nine years ago, and has threatened to suspend oil deliveries to the United States.

"Know, Yankees, that we are determined," Chavez said, calling for a mass rally against the threat of revolution.

"I call on Venezuelans to unite," he said. "There are millions of us, and they cannot do anything to us."