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US notes Chavez return coolly

Supporters of Hugo Chavez gather at Simon Bolivar Square in Caracas on February 18, 2013, to celebrate his return
Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather at Simon Bolivar Square in Caracas on February 18, 2013, to celebrate after Chavez announced on Twitter that he had returned to the country. The US said Monday it took note of his return, but recalled

The United States said Monday it took note of President Hugo Chavez's return to Venezuela, but recalled that his country's constitution calls for new elections if he is deemed unable to govern.

"We noted the return of President Chavez to Venezuela, and continue to express our sympathy at his illness," a US State Department official said.

"Should he not be able to execute the duties of office, the Venezuelan constitution requires an election to select a new president," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He added that "longstanding hemispheric practice and principle" mandate free and fair elections, with open access to the media.

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