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Published: Thursday February 20, 2014 MYT 10:20:01 AM
Updated: Thursday February 20, 2014 MYT 10:21:13 AM

In Mexico, Obama criticizes Venezuelan government

TOLUCA, Mexico (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday sharply criticized the Venezuelan government for arresting protesters and urged the government to focus on the "legitimate grievances" of its people.

At a news conference concluding a North American summit, Obama did not mince words in reacting to Venezuela's expulsion this week of three U.S. diplomats accused of recruiting students to lead protests in Caracas.

Instead of "making up false accusations" against U.S. diplomats, the Venezuelan government should focus on the "legitimate grievances of the Venezuelan government," Obama said.

He called on the Caracas government to release protesters it had detained and engage in a real dialogue. "All parties have an obligation to work together," he said.

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal in Toluca, and Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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