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diplomatic ties


Venezuela announces it has “ended” steps towards restoring diplomatic ties with the US, after comments made by Samantha Power, who was nominated as the next envoy to the UN.

Samantha Power said this week she would seek to combat what she called the “crackdown on civil society” in countries including Venezuela.

She was speaking at a US Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

The remarks prompted an angry response from Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela hereby ends the process… of finally normalizing our diplomatic relations,” said Venezuela’s foreign ministry in a statement.

It objected to Samantha Power’s “interventionist agenda”, noting that her “disrespectful opinions” were later endorsed by the state department, “contradicting in tone and in content” earlier statements by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Venezuela announces it has "ended" steps towards restoring diplomatic ties with the US, after comments made by Samantha Power

Venezuela announces it has “ended” steps towards restoring diplomatic ties with the US, after comments made by Samantha Power

Relations between the US and Venezuela have been strained in recent years. They last had ambassadors in each other’s capitals in 2010.

Washington angered Caracas by backing the Venezuelan opposition’s demand for a full recount of the presidential election in April to replace Hugo Chavez, who died in March.

Hugo Chavez’s anointed successor, Nicolas Maduro, won the vote by less than two percentage points.

In June, the two countries had tentatively agreed to work towards improving their strained relations, after Venezuela freed and deported a US filmmaker who had been held on conspiracy charges.

During a regional summit in Guatemala, John Kerry said he had agreed with Foreign Minister Elias Jaua on an “ongoing, continuing dialogue” in order to “establish a more constructive and positive relationship”.

He said the US wanted to “begin to change the dialogue between our countries and hopefully quickly move the appointments of ambassadors between our nations”.

Elias Jaua said at the time that for Venezuela it was important to build a relationship based on the principles of mutual respect and no interference in internal affairs.

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Armenia announces it is severing diplomatic ties with Hungary after the release of Azeri army officer Ramil Safarov convicted of murdering Armenian soldier Gurgen Markarian.

The Azeri serviceman, Ramil Safarov, was given a life sentence for hacking Armenian Gurgen Markarian to death with an axe in 2004 in Budapest.

On Friday, Ramil Safarov was flown to Baku and pardoned, despite Baku’s assurances that his sentence would be enforced.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a bitter war over an enclave in the early 1990s.

Armenia said on Friday that Hungary had made a “grave mistake” in sending Ramil Safarov back to Azerbaijan.

Azeri serviceman Ramil Safarov was given a life sentence for hacking Armenian Gurgen Markarian to death with an axe in 2004 in Budapest

Azeri serviceman Ramil Safarov was given a life sentence for hacking Armenian Gurgen Markarian to death with an axe in 2004 in Budapest

“With their joint actions, Azerbaijan and Hungary opened the door to the recurrence of such crimes,” President Serzh Sarkisian said in comments release by his press office.

“I cannot put up with this. The republic of Armenia cannot put up with this,” the president added.

The Hungarian authorities said they had returned Ramil Safarov to his homeland only after receiving assurances from the Baku government that his sentence would be enforced.

Ramil Safarov killed Gurgen Markarian at a military academy in Budapest, where both servicemen attended English-language courses organized by NATO.

During his trial in Hungary, Ramil Safarov said that the Azeri-Armenian war over Nagorno-Karabakh and insults from the Armenian officer were at the root of his actions.

Hungary and Azerbaijan have so far made no public comment on the case.

Azerbaijan and Armenia, both former Soviet republics, fought a war over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave in the early 1990s, which left some 30,000 people dead, and displaced hundreds of thousands.

Armenia-backed authorities are currently controlling Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies within Azerbaijan.

Despite a 1994 ceasefire, skirmishes continue on the borders of the disputed territory.