WASHINGTON (AFP) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The United States on Monday ruled out military action against Venezuela after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened to cut off oil supplies to the US if it backed a Colombian attack.
"As we have stated in the past, the United States has no intention of engaging in military action against Venezuela," Virginia Staab, a State Department spokeswoman, told AFP.
"The United States has long enjoyed a mutually beneficial energy relationship with Venezuela, and we wish to see that relationship continue," she said.
Importing 1.4 million barrels of oil a day, the United States is the main oil consumer of Venezuela, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and South America's largest oil producer and exporter.
Chavez, Venezuela's anti-Americabn leftist president, said on Sunday he had intelligence that "the possibility of an armed aggression against Venezuelan territory from Colombia" was higher than it has been "in 100 years."
If Colombia were to launch an attack "promoted by the Yankee empire, we would suspend oil deliveries to the United States, even if everybody over here has to eat stones," he warned.
Chavez broke off diplomatic relations with Bogota Thursday in response to charges by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe that 1,500 Colombian guerrillas had set up camp inside Venezuela and were launching attacks from its territory.
"We encourage Colombia and Venezuela to work through dialogue and diplomacy to ensure their shared border is secure and peaceful," Staab said.
"The information presented by Colombia concerning a continuing presence by illegal armed groups in Venezuela merits a thorough investigation by competent international entities," she said.
The United States has thrown its support behind its key ally, saying Colombia's allegations that Venezuela was harboring Colombian rebels "need to be taken very seriously."