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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 August 2005, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Apology over kill Chavez TV call
Pat Robertson
Mr Robertson has made inflammatory statement in the past
A US TV evangelist has apologised for calling for US special forces to kill Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Pat Robertson conceded that comments made on his widely-watched TV show amounted to a call for assassination.

On Monday, Pat Robertson said of Mr Chavez: "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."

He said he had spoken in frustration, but stood by remarks saying Mr Chavez "makes common cause with terrorists".

In a statement on his website, Mr Robertson, who has a history of making inflammatory remarks, repeated criticisms of Mr Chavez, the twice-elected leftist president of Venezuela.

"Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologise for that statement," he said.

"I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the US is out to kill him.

"Col Chavez has found common cause with terrorists such as the noted assassin Carlos the Jackal, has visited Iran reportedly to gain access to nuclear technology and has referred to Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro as his comrades," he added.

Backtracking

On Monday, Mr Robertson told viewers of his TV show, the 700 Club, that the US should act on Mr Chavez's recurrent complaints that the US was allegedly trying to assassinate him.

Col Chavez has found common cause with terrorists... and has referred to Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro as his comrades
Pat Robertson

"I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," he said.

He later argued that there were a number of possible meanings for the phrase "take him out", including kidnapping.

Mr Robertson's remarks come amid tense relations between the two countries.

President Chavez is a regular critic of the US, which regards Venezuela as a possible source of instability in the region.

He has accused the US of trying to topple his government.

A US State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, has stressed that Mr Robertson's remarks do not reflect US policy.

"I would say that Pat Robertson is a private citizen and that his views do not represent the policy of the United States," he said on Tuesday.

'Not US policy'

On Monday, Mr Robertson said Mr Chavez posed a real threat to US interests in the region.

Hugo Chavez
Chavez is an outspoken critic of the US
"We don't need another $200bn war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he said.

"It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

The comments were subsequently reported by the Associated Press and other media outlets, but on Wednesday Mr Robertson said the remarks were misconstrued.

"I didn't say 'assassination', I said our special forces could take him out. Take him out could be a number of things including kidnapping," he said.

"Any allegations that we are planning to take hostile action against the Venezuelan government are completely baseless," Mr McCormack said in response.

Venezuela is the fifth-largest oil exporter and a major supplier of oil to the United States.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
US government responds to Mr Robertson's assassination call



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