Jesse Jackson offered support for President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela on Sunday, saying that a call for his assassination by a U.S. religious broadcaster was a criminal act and that the United States and Venezuela should work out their differences through diplomacy.
The American civil rights leader condemned last week's suggestion by the television evangelist Pat Robertson that U.S. operatives should kill the leftist Venezuelan leader, calling the statements "immoral" and "illegal."
Chavez has repeatedly accused the Bush administration of planning to overthrow him, and warned Friday that some American leaders had considered killing him. U.S. officials have repeatedly denied such claims.
Robertson's comments last week have increased already tense relations between Caracas and Washington. Robertson called for Chavez's assassination on his television show "The 700 Club," saying the United States should "take him out" because the Venezuelan leader posed a danger to the region.
Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a supporter of President Bush's reelection bid, later apologized.
Jackson said the Federal Communications Commission "must prohibit such threats on the airwaves."
Chavez later met with Jackson during the president's weekly television and radio program and offered heating oil to poor communities in the United States, to bypass middlemen who he said inflated prices.
Chavez said 140 communities or groups in the United States had requested energy aid from Venezuela since he suggested such an initiative last week, Bloomberg News reported.
Venezuela's energy and mines minister, Rafael Ramirez, said distribution might be coordinated by Citgo Petroleum Corp., the U.S. unit of Petroleos de Venezuela SA.