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Last Updated: Monday, 23 May, 2005, 03:59 GMT 04:59 UK
Chavez considers breaking US ties
Luis Posada Carriles before his arrest in Miami
Luis Posada Carriles denies involvement in the airliner bombing
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he will consider breaking diplomatic ties with the US if it fails to hand over a Cuban-born terror suspect. Venezuela says Luis Posada Carriles must stand trial over the 1976 bombing of Cuba's plane that killed 73 people.

Mr Chavez says Washington would be guilty of protecting international terrorism if it refused extradition.

Mr Posada Carriles - the 77-year-old former CIA employee - was charged last week with illegal entry into the US.

US immigration officials said that he would be held in custody until an immigration court hearing on 13 June.

Washington has up to 60 days to consider Venezuela's extradition request under a 1922 treaty between the two countries.

'Wasting money'

"If they don't extradite him (Mr Posada Carriles) in the time allowed in our agreement, we will review our relations with the United States," Mr Chavez said in his regular Sunday TV programme.

He said Caracas would decide "if it worth having an embassy in the United States, wasting money, or for the United States to have an embassy here".

"It is difficult, very difficult, to maintain ties with a government that so shamelessly hides and protects international terrorism," Mr Chavez said.

The president last week described Mr Posada Carriles as "a self-confessed terrorist".

Washington stance

Mr Posada Carriles - who was born in Cuba but now holds Venezuelan nationality - has denied involvement in the attack on the Cuban airline passenger plane on a flight from Caracas to Havana.

Mr Posada Carriles escaped a Venezuelan prison in 1985 while awaiting a trial on appeal.

He was twice acquitted by Venezuelan courts of plotting to bomb the plane.

The US says it will not deport Mr Posada Carriles to any country that would hand him over to Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba.

Venezuela has said it will not hand Mr Posada Carriles over, and Mr Castro has insisted he will be happy to see him tried there.

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