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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 August 2005, 21:31 GMT 22:31 UK
Jackson defends Venezuelan head
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Jesse Jackson
Hugo Chavez (left) met Jesse Jackson during his trip
US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has offered his support to the Venezuelan president after a call by a US TV evangelist for his assassination.

Rev Jackson denounced Pat Robertson's suggestion that US agents should kill Hugo Chavez as "immoral" and "illegal".

The two countries should work out their differences through diplomacy, he said during a visit to Venezuela.

Mr Robertson has apologised for his remarks, which the US State Department said were "inappropriate".

Last week's comments come amid tense relations between Caracas and Washington.

President Chavez is a regular critic of Washington, which regards the left-wing leader as a possible source of instability in the region.

The Venezuelan leader has said that US President George W Bush will be to blame if he is attacked.

'Propaganda coup'

Rev Jackson urged US authorities to take action against Mr Robertson's statements.
Pat Robertson
Pat Robertson has apologised for his call to "take out" Chavez

"We must choose a civilized policy of rational conversation," he told reporters during his three-day visit to speak at a ceremony.

Rev Jackson later met and shook hands with Mr Chavez during the Venezuelan leader's weekly radio and television programme, the Associated Press reports.

Mr Jackson's visit is a propaganda coup for the Venezuelan president, says the BBC's Justin Webb in Caracas.

Mr Chavez is likely to use the reverend's presence to demand that the White House apologise for Mr Robertson's remarks, our correspondent adds.

On Monday, Pat Robertson told viewers of his influential 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.

Mr Robertson has since apologised - saying he was frustrated at Mr Chavez's constant accusations against Washington.

However, senior members of Mr Chavez's government have said they take the threat from the US very seriously.

The two nations have recently broken off co-operation on combating illegal drugs, though America still buys Venezuelan oil. The nation is the world's fifth-largest producer.

US government responds to Mr Robertson's assassination call

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