US President Barack Obama joins Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (unseen) and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (unseen) for a news conference in the Patio Central at the El Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Mexico to end the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico, Feb 19, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
TOLUCA, Mexico - US 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 US diplomats accused of recruiting students to lead protests in Caracas.
Instead of "making up false accusations" against US 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.