US evangelical seeks Chavez talks
A senior representative of America's evangelical Christians is to make
an attempt to set up a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The Rev
Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, wants to
distance American Christians from the remarks of a tele-evangelist.
Pat Robertson earlier this week called for Mr Chavez to be assassinated.
The US State Department called his remarks "inappropriate" and Mr Robertson
later apologised for them.
Mr Haggard says he wants to meet Mr Chavez face to face and apologise for Mr
He also wants to secure assurances about the safety of American evangelical
missionaries working in Venezuela.
Mr Haggard is in Mexico, where he is meeting a friend of Mr Chavez.
If that encounter goes well, the leader of America's evangelical churches
will travel on to Caracas for a meeting which is bound to embarrass the White
Mr Chavez is locked in an acrimonious dispute with Mr Bush.
Washington regards the Venezuelan leader as a dangerous left-winger with
ambitions to dominate South America, says the BBC Justin Webb in Caracas.
Mr Chavez - a friend of Cuban leader Fidel Castro - equally dislikes Mr Bush,
and regularly suggests to his people that the Bush administration provides a
military threat to Venezuela.
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.