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Kerry rebukes Venezuela for 'unacceptable' use of force

Published on Feb 22, 2014 1:03 PM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday condemned Venezuela's "unacceptable" use of force against anti-government protesters, and declined to respond to a call from Caracas for bilateral talks.

"The government's use of force and judicial intimidation against citizens and political figures, who are exercising a legitimate right to protest, is unacceptable and will only increase the likelihood of violence," Mr Kerry said in a statement.

Despite calls from Venezuela's democratic opposition and the international community, the government of Mr Nicolas Maduro "has confronted peaceful protesters with force and in some cases with armed vigilantes claiming to support the government," the top US diplomat added.

"It has imprisoned students and a key opposition figure. It has limited the freedoms of expression and assembly necessary for legitimate political debate."

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