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Friday, 14 January, 2000, 08:35 GMT
Venezuela rejects US military aid

The United States has postponed the sending of two ships carrying military engineers and equipment to Venezuela after the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, said he did not want further US troops in his country.

The ships were ordered to Venezuela after the Venezuelan government requested engineers and earth-moving equipment to help clear roads in areas devastated by floods last month.

But on Wednesday President Chavez said that while further equipment was needed, US military engineers were not.

He said Venezuela had the skilled personnel necessary to operate such equipment.

A spokesman for the US defence department said his government was surprised by Mr Chavez's comments, and was seeking clarification. More than one hundred US troops have been in Venezuela since the floods operating emergency water purification plants and helicopters.

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