WASHINGTON — A top US official said Tuesday that Washington is closely examining whether Venezuela's cooperation with Iran on energy issues violates international sanctions on the Tehran regime.
Arturo Valenzuela, the top State Department diplomat for Latin America, told a congressional panel that "we are looking at that issue" and that the US administration is "trying to determine if in fact there is a violation."
The comments came under questioning from Republican Representative Connie Mack, who heads a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
"It is something we continue to monitor closely," the diplomat said.
The US administration last year said it was monitoring the energy cooperation deals made between Iran and Venezuela, whose President Hugo Chavez is a vocal critic of Washington.
Chavez last October signed 11 deals in Tehran focused on energy cooperation between the two major oil producers and US foes.
Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad both denounced American "imperialism" and called for a "new world order" during the visit, part of the South American leader's international tour aimed at strengthening Venezuela's economic ties with eastern Europe and the Middle East.
The Iran regime has been slapped with a series of sanctions by the United Nations for its nuclear program, suspected of being used for weapons despite Tehran's denials.
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