U.S. official says El Salvador relations 'paused' for lack of interest

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SAN SALVADOR, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Relations between El Salvador and the United States are temporarily on hold due to the Salvadoran government's apparent lack of interest in dialogue, the senior U.S. official in the Central American country said on Monday.

"Obviously we're on a bit of a pause because the government of El Salvador is not giving a signal that it has an interest in our relationship," U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Jean Manes said in an interview on local television.

"Again, it's impossible to think that someone has an interest in our relationship when they're using their paid media machine to attack the United States every day," added Manes, without naming anyone in particular.

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The office of President Nayib Bukele, who frequently criticizes the United States and U.S. politicians in social media, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reiterating bones of contention that have lately dogged bilateral relations, she flagged the dismissal of judges and the attorney general in May, the closure of an anti-corruption body, and the restriction of access to information as U.S. concerns.

"On behalf of the White House, the State Department, we've offered a bridge, and the (Salvadoran) government decided not to take it. As far as we're concerned, we're interested in having the best relationship with El Salvador," Manes added.

Manes, who said she had last met with Bukele three weeks ago, announced she would be leaving El Salvador this week to return to her previous job at U.S. Southern Command. Her current deputy, Brendan O'Brien, will assume charge.

Bukele at the weekend unveiled plans to build the world's first "Bitcoin City", backed with bitcoin bonds, in El Salvador, which made the crypto currency legal tender in September.

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Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by David Gregorio

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