Venezuela says Snowden has still not formally responded to asylum offer

MONTEVIDEO Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:40am EDT

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Elias Jaua speaks during a press statement with his Brazilian counterpart Antonio Patriota (not pictured) at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia April 9, 2013. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Elias Jaua speaks during a press statement with his Brazilian counterpart Antonio Patriota (not pictured) at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia April 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino

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MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Venezuela has still not received a formal response to its offer of asylum to former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua told Reuters on Thursday.

"We communicated last week, we made an offer and so far we haven't received a reply," Jaua said on the sidelines of a regional foreign ministers' meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Venezuela along with leftist allies Bolivia and Nicaragua have offered asylum to Snowden, who is wanted by Washington on espionage charges for divulging details of extensive, secret U.S. surveillance programs.

Snowden has been stuck in the transit area of Moscow's international airport since June 23 amid mounting speculation that he might board a flight at any moment to travel to Latin America.

Foreign ministers from the Mercosur bloc of South American nations are preparing for a summit on Friday when leaders are expected to respond to allegations Washington spied extensively in the region and to last week's diversion of Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane over European airspace on suspicions Snowden was on board.

"We've discussed the issue of spying on the continent, issues related to ... the right of asylum," said Uruguay Foreign Minister Luis Almagro.

Mercosur is comprised of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela. The presidents of Ecuador and Bolivia will also attend the meeting on Friday.

(Reporting by Malena Castaldi, writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Sandra Maler and Philip Barbara)

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