CARACAS - Venezuela will not restore diplomatic ties with Peru until President-elect Alan Garcia apologizes for insulting remarks he made during his presidential campaign, President Hugo Chavez said.
Venezuela and Peru withdrew their respective ambassadors in May in a diplomatic spat sparked by Peruvian allegations that Chavez was interfering in the Peruvian presidential runoff between Garcia and Chavez-backed candidate Ollanta Humala.
"The only way Venezuela could restore relations with the new government of Peru is that the president-elect of Peru offer the necessary explanation and apologies to the people of Venezuela," Chavez said during his weekly broadcast.
Garcia had called Chavez "shameless" during his campaign, and Chavez responded by calling him a "thief" and threatened to cut diplomatic ties with the Andean nation if Garcia won.
On Sunday, Chavez said Venezuela recognizes, "but does not applaud," Garcia's victory, adding that "relations with Peru, with the government of Peru, are in the deepest freezer we could put them."
Chavez, a self-styled socialist revolutionary, is at the forefront of a leftist resurgence in Latin America that has capitalized on strong anti-US sentiment. But Chavez's efforts to build leftist alliances in Latin America and roll back US-sponsored free trade agreements have irked regional governments like Colombia and Peru.
The US State Department says Venezuela, the world's No 5 oil exporter, is using its oil wealth to destabilise democracy in the region.
Chavez openly backed Garcia's rival, nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala, and has provided similar support for leftist Nicaraguan presidential hopeful Daniel Ortega.
Garcia, a former Peruvian president whose term ended in disaster in 1990, beat Humala last week to win Peru's presidential runoff election.