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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 February 2006, 16:04 GMT
Chavez promotes expelled diplomat
Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez has said any US spies will be arrested
Venezuela's president has promoted a diplomat ordered to leave the US in a tit-for-tat row over spying charges.

Hugo Chavez said Jeny Figueredo had been made deputy foreign minister to Europe "in recognition of her work and what she is and means for us".

Her expulsion last week came a day after Mr Chavez said that he had told a US naval attache to leave Caracas for allegedly handling secret information.

Relations between Washington and Mr Chavez have long been under strain.

Mr Chavez frequently accuses the US of trying to overthrow him, which the US denies.

Spy row

The Figueredo expulsion came after Venezuela said it was expelling John Correa, for allegedly passing secret information from Venezuelan military officers to the Pentagon.

The US described the charges as "baseless".

Correspondents say the expulsions took the animosity between Venezuela and the US to a new level.

Washington is deeply opposed to the government of left-wing Mr Chavez, who is a vocal critic of the US.

The US has expressed concerns about Venezuelan democracy under Mr Chavez and about the effect of his government's military purchases on regional stability.

Washington has tried to block his attempts to buy military equipment that contain American technology.

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