Tue, Aug 30, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Chavez threatens to lodge a complaint against US at UN

AFP , CARACAS

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, left, speaks with Jesse Jackson in Caracas, Venezuela, on Sunday. Jackson offered his support for Chavez, saying a recent call for his assassination was a criminal act and that the US and Venezuela should work out their differences through diplomacy.

PHOTO: AP

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has warned he will lodge a complaint against the US at the UN and other international bodies if the US government fails to act against television evangelist Pat Robertson, who has called for Chavez's assassination.

"If the US government does not take action that it must take, we will go to the UN and Organization of American States to denounce the US government," the Venezuelan leader said Sunday as he addressed participants at talks on a social charter for the Americas.

He added he believed that by failing to act against Robertson, the US was "giving protection to a terrorist, who is demanding the assassination of a legitimate president."

Robertson caused a diplomatic stir last Monday when he said on the air that if Chavez believed the US was trying to kill him, "I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."

Robertson apologized Wednesday, but then went on to compare Chavez to former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and to suggest the US could one day be at war with his oil-rich country.

Chavez, a twice-elected leftist and close ally of Cuban President Fidel Castro, has often said Washington would like to assassinate him, and accuses the Bush administration of involvement in a coup d'etat that toppled him for 47 hours in April 2002. US officials last week distanced themselves from Robertson's comments.

The Venezuela president said he had already instructed his foreign minister and the country's ambassador to Washington to begin the process in the international bodies.

He said Venezuela could use international treaties and conventions to demand the extradition of the television preacher.

Chavez said he believed Robertson "should be sent to prison to serve as an example for the entire world."

Meanwhile, visiting US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson lent his support to Chavez, saying Robertson's remarks were "repugnant, immoral, illegal." Addressing the Venezuelan National Assembly, Jackson called for the US Justice Department to investigate the statement. Jackson, on a three-day visit to Venezuela to meet Chavez, politicians and community leaders, also called on US President George W. Bush to issue "a swift rejection" of Robertson's statement.

"It must be unequivocally clear that such a heinous act is not desirable nor designed nor planned. We must use power to reduce tensions, reduce the rhetoric of our threats," Jackson said.

The US State Department sought to distance itself from Robertson last week, calling his remarks "inappropriate" but said the evangelist spoke as a "private citizen."

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