- US-Venezuela tensions have escalated in recent months after Iran sent five tankers to help alleviate fuel shortages.
CARACAS: Venezuela condemned on Thursday the presence of a US warship off its coast, describing it as "a deliberate act of provocation".
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said in a statement that the positioning of the guided missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence off the coast was "an intention to intimidate" Caracas.
Arreaza said the warship was inside the 24-nautical mile Venezuelan Contiguous Zone, "at a distance of 16.1 nautical miles from the Venezuelan coast."
US-Venezuela tensions have escalated in recent months after Iran sent five tankers to help alleviate fuel shortages in the South American country.
In April, the US military said it was increasing its vigilance and deploying warships in the ocean near Venezuela, arguing there was an increase in organized crime.
The ship claimed in communication with Venezuelan authorities that it was carrying out "patrol operations against drug trafficking," the foreign ministry statement said.
"This is clearly a deliberate act of provocation, which is also erratic and childish," Arreaza said.
Venezuela has frequently condemned the presence of US military vessels off its coast.