March 7 (UPI) -- Peru recalled its Venezuelan ambassador and sent a formal letter of protest to Caracas over a diplomatic dispute in which Venezuela's foreign minister called Peru's president a "dog."
Peru made the decision on Monday following a trip to Washington, D.C., in late February by Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
The diplomatic row stems from a comment Kuczynski made during his trip to the United States in which he said the U.S. government did not spend too much effort in Latin America because it was like a "nice dog" -- though he said Venezuela was not included in that statement.
"It's like a nice dog that is sleeping on the carpet and does not generate any problems, but in the case of Venezuela, that is a big problem," Kuczynski said.
Following Kuczynski's comments, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro over the weekend criticized Kuczynski and demanded an apology.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez during a televised speech on Monday said Kuczynski "is the only nice dog that wags his tail to the empire" -- a reference to the United States.
Rodríguez said Kuczynski is a "coward" who "cheerfully wags his tail" to his "imperial masters."
Peru called in its Venezuelan ambassador to discuss the matter on Monday.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru addresses the embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on the occasion of expressing its most energetic protest and absolute rejection of insolent expressions formulated by the president of the republic and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of that country over the president of the republic of Peru," Peru's Foreign Affairs Ministry said in the letter to Caracas. "These expressions are unacceptable between two states that maintain diplomatic relations, a framework in which their high authorities must keep mutual respect."