Venezuela's government said it was calling off efforts begun six weeks ago to normalize ties with the United States following remarks by the nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Venezuela's Foreign Ministry objected to comments by Samantha Power, who pledged during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she would contest "the crackdown on civil society being carried out in countries like Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela."

The ministry said Friday that in the wake of the comments it was "terminating the process" of normalizing relations with the United States "that was started during the conversation in Guatemala" a month and a half ago.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also demanded that the Obama administration apologize.

However, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Friday that Power was an outstanding and highly competent nominee, adding that "we support her completely."

Ties between Caracas and Washington soured during the presidency of the late Hugo Chavez, a vehement critic of U.S. foreign policy who was Maduro's mentor and predecessor, and reached their most recent low point in 2010, when a diplomatic spat saw relations reduced to the level of charge d'affaires.

Despite the poor relations, however, the OPEC nation has remained an important oil supplier to the United States. EFE