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World in brief: U.S., Venezuela to restore envoys

Maracay, Venezuela – Venezuela and the United States said Wednesday they will restore their ambassadors more than nine months after President Hugo Chavez expelled the U.S. envoy in his final diplomatic bout with the Bush administration.

But Chavez signaled he still has major differences with Washington, accusing the U.S. of having a hand in recent protests in Iran and saying he hopes President Barack Obama will lead the United States on a new path.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in Washington that the time frame for restoring the ambassadors remained unclear, but a top Venezuelan official said the exchange would happen soon.

Netanyahu calls off Mitchell meeting

Paris – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting in Paris with the top U.S. Mideast envoy has been called off in an apparent sign of growing friction over President Barack Obama’s call for a halt to construction in Jewish settlements.

Netanyahu met with the leaders of France and Italy on Wednesday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, like Obama, insisted on a complete and immediate end to construction in Jewish settlements.

Netanyahu backed out of a potentially uncomfortable meeting in Paris with Washington’s Mideast envoy, seeking more time to try and sidestep a confrontation with Washington.

A statement from Netanyahu’s office said the meeting with George Mitchell, which had been scheduled to take place in Paris today, would be put off while Israeli Defense Minster Ehud Barak meets Mitchell in Washington next week and tries to bridge the gaps.