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White House plays down summit spat with Venezuela

The White House said Tuesday Venezuela is not a security threat, in a disavowal aimed at defusing a controversy just days before Presidents Barack Obama and Nicolas Maduro come face-to-face at a regional summit. Senior US officials said recent sanctions on seven people linked to the Venezuelan government were not designed to inflame tensions, but to address human rights abuses. Maduro and his supporters attacked US legal wording that declared Venezuela a threat to national security, and even US allies criticized the timing of the sanctions, weeks before the upcoming Summit of the Americas. “The wording, which got a lot of attention is completely pro-forma,” said Ben Rhodes, a senior advisor to Obama.

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