US clarifies sanctions talk after Venezuela threatens to cut oil exports

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Jaua had promised to counter with “trade, energy, economic and political measures as we deem necessary to respond forcefully to this unacceptable threat.”

“We do not accept any empire threats,” he told Venezuela's Telesur. “You can be sure that faced with any kind of sanctions, we will respond with economic, political, social and diplomatic actions to defend the sacred rights of the Venezuelan people.”

Several Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), have urged President Obama not to recognize the election of Nicolas Maduro unless allegations of voter fraud are investigated. Obama did not send a delegation to Maduro's inauguration as Hugo Chavez's successor on Friday, but the White House has expressed confidence in Venezuelan electoral officials' promise to audit the vote, which falls short of a full recount.

“We took positive note of the [National Electoral Council]'s decision to proceed with a recount and hope it will allow Venezuelans – regardless of which candidate they supported – to have confidence in the results of the electoral process,” a senior administration official told The Hill. “It is important that all sides feel that their democratic aspirations are being met.”