US rejects Venezuela's call for "snap" presidential election

The U.S. State Department has rejected a call by Venezuela's ruling party to hold early presidential elections.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Wednesday that the "snap" elections wouldn't be free or fair.

Her comments come a day after Venezuela's constituent assembly approved the move to hold elections by the end of April. President Nicolas Maduro then said he'd seek a second term.

Socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello says elections are the best way to counter criticism by the U.S. and others that Venezuela is descending into dictatorship.

Several neighboring Latin American countries say early elections cut short negotiations with Venezuela's opposition, which calls for international observers.

Nauert called on Maduro's regime to respect the human rights of its citizens and to return to democratic constitutional order.