US ambassador heightens US-Venezuela tensions.

United States ambassador William Brownfield has heightened tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela by attempting to support the country's opposition parties, Venezuela's communication minister said on Monday.

William Lara, said in a statement that Brownfield was a "hooligan" who was heightening tensions between the two countries by acting like "a neighborhood bully."

Lara warned Brownfield to stop making statements that contained more "calumnies" than those of the country's opposition parties.

If Brownfield continued to go from provocation to provocation, said Lara, "he will have to answer to the Venezuelan people."

He added that the ambassador could continue to meet his Venezuelan allies, but he must also respect the South American country's laws.

On Friday, supporters of Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, pelted Brownfield with tomatoes and eggs, after the ambassador attended a ceremony to donate baseball equipment to a children's club in western Caracas.

On Friday, the U.S. responded to the incident - the third in last weeks - with a warning that "severe diplomatic consequences" would follow if it was repeated, adding that Venezuela was failing in its duty to provide security to diplomats under the Geneva Convention.

On his Sunday television and radio show, Chavez responded by saying he could expel Brownfield, if he continued with his "provocative acts."

Lara said on Monday that foreign diplomats had to respect the Geneva Convention when acting within their diplomatic portfolios.

[Source: Xinhua News Agency, Caracas, 11apr06]

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