CARACAS, Venezuela -- The United States said Monday that it had expelled two Venezuelan diplomats in response to the ouster last week of two American military attachés by Venezuela.
"Around the world, when our people are thrown out unjustly, we're going to take reciprocal action," Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, said at a news conference. "And we need to do that to protect our own people."
She said that the two Venezuelan diplomats had already left the country. The State Department identified them as Orlando José Montañez Olivares, a second secretary at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, and Víctor Camacaro Mata, a consular officer in New York.
The diplomatic tit for tat started last Tuesday when Venezuela said it had expelled two Air Force attachés because of what it described as an effort by the United States to destabilize the country.
In a television broadcast, Nicolás Maduro, who was President Hugo Chávez's vice president, accused one of the attachés of trying to recruit Venezuelan military personnel to conduct destabilizing acts.
Later that day, Mr. Maduro announced that Mr. Chávez had died. Mr. Maduro will serve as the interim president until a special election to replace Mr. Chávez is held on April 14.
Venezuela and the United States began informal talks late last year to improve relations, but American officials have said that the effort has since stalled.
"We do hope for better relations with Venezuela," Ms. Nuland said. "There is work that we would like to do together, particularly in the areas of counterterrorism, counternarcotics, economics and energy relations, but it's going to take a change of tone from Caracas."
Meanwhile, Globovision, a television channel here that actively supports the country's political opposition and is highly critical of the government, announced Monday that it was being sold to a financier who is seen as being sympathetic to the government.
The election will pit Mr. Maduro against Henrique Capriles Radonski, a state governor. Globovision serves as a counterpoint to the main state-run channel's pro-government coverage.
María Eugenia Díaz contributed reporting.world
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.