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Venezuela criticizes US stance on Falklands

Venezuela has criticized the U.S. government for its stance on Argentina's long-standing dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

At the Summit of the Americas in Colombia over the weekend, the U.S. and Canada refused to endorse a final declaration on Argentina's claim to the British-held Falkland Islands.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro told state television on Monday night that President Barack Obama's government showed its "ambiguous and totally disloyal position for our continent regarding the issue of Las Malvinas," the Spanish name for the British-controlled islands off Argentina's coast.

Tensions between Britain and Argentina have grown recently, especially around the 30th anniversary of Argentina's invasion of the Falklands, which Argentines say Britain has long illegally occupied.

Argentina's claim to the islands, which are known in Latin America as the Islas Malvinas, has widespread support across the region.

Britain, which has controlled the Falklands since 1833, sent forces to the islanders' defense when Argentine forces invaded on April 2, 1982. The 74-day war ended when British troops routed the Argentines. In all, 255 British soldiers, 649 Argentines and three islanders were killed.

Venezuela also threw its support behind Argentina's decision to renationalize an oil company controlled by Spain's Repsol on Monday and suggested the European nation is bullying the government of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez.

Venezuela's government said in a statement that President Hugo Chavez supported the decision by Fernandez. The Venezuelan government also condemned what it called "the threats and attempts at intimidation that are taking shape in Europe." It did not elaborate on those alleged threats.

Venezuela said it's willing to help Argentina strengthen its oil industry.

Fernandez has put a bill to congress that would give Argentina a majority stake in oil and gas company YPF by taking control of 51 percent of its shares currently held by Spain's Repsol.

Venezuela, Latin America's largest oil producer, has strong relations with Argentina.

Fernandez on Monday pushed forward a bill to renationalize the company.

Maduro also suggested that the United States is losing clout with its Latin American neighbors, saying U.S. officials were overwhelmed by the show of support from Latin American leaders who strongly objected to Washington's stance against Cuba's inclusion in the hemisphere's affairs during last week's Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.

"The isolation of the United States was evident in Cartagena," Maduro said.

The United States insists the communist-run nation must be barred from the 18-year-old Summit of the Americas.

Several Latin American nations are certain to boycott the next meeting, possibly leading to its cancellation, if Washington does not change its position, Maduro said.

"If Cuba is not invited, there won't be another Summit of the Americas," he said.