Venezuela, despite friction, to name envoy to United States

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro greets supporters during a rally in Caracas on Monday, Feb 24, 2014. Venezuela, which has been at odds with the United States for years and announced the expulsion of three US diplomats last week, will nomina
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro greets supporters during a rally in Caracas on Monday, Feb 24, 2014. Venezuela, which has been at odds with the United States for years and announced the expulsion of three US diplomats last week, will nominate an ambassador to Washington on Tuesday, President Nicolas Maduro said on Monday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

CARACAS (AFP) - Venezuela, which has been at odds with the United States for years and announced the expulsion of three US diplomats last week, will nominate an ambassador to Washington on Tuesday, President Nicolas Maduro said on Monday.

Foreign Minister Elias Jaua will announce the ambassador designate on Tuesday, Maduro said in an event broadcast on state TV.

Venezuela and the US have not had ambassadors in each others' countries since 2010. Venezuela has denounced the US as a meddling capitalist empire and Washington has been wary of the leftist government of the late Hugo Chavez and his successor, Maduro, and its ties with countries such as Cuba and Iran.

The two sides started talking last year about resuming full blown relations, but the negotiations fell apart in September.

Maduro's announcement came as Venezuela has been roiling with almost daily protests for nearly three weeks by students and opposition members angry over Maduro's government and living conditions marked by rampant street crime, runaway inflation and other economic woes.

The three US diplomats whose expulsion was announced were accused of conspiring with student demonstration leaders. The weeks of demos have left at least 14 people dead.

Maduro said he was naming a new ambassador because "Americans think we are killing each other" and he wants to improve dialogue with the US.

But even as he seemed to extend an olive branch, Maduro lashed out at comments by White House spokesman Jay Carney, who on Monday urged him to concentrate on dialogue with the opposition and free detained demonstrators immediately.

"Are you the Venezuelan Supreme Court? Does the United States wield judicial power in Venezuela to decide who is guilty and who should go free?" Maduro exclaimed.

Comments