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US partially suspends visa issuances in Venezuela

Associated Press Updated: March 23, 2014 at 10:15 pm

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Venezuela is partially suspending the issuance of tourist visas because President Nicolas Maduro's recent expulsion of American diplomats has left it understaffed.

The embassy says last month's expulsion of three consular officials and delays by Maduro's socialist government in authorizing the arrival of new U.S. officials makes it impossible to meet demand for visas.

An embassy statement Sunday says first-time applicants will not be able to schedule appointments, but those Venezuelans needing to renew tourist visas will still be allowed to do so.

In expelling the U.S. officials last month, Maduro accused the U.S. of joining with opponents behind near-daily protests in a plot to overthrow his administration less than a year after he was elected to succeed the late Hugo Chavez. Washington denies the charge.

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