A prominent U.S. Christian broadcaster has called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Speaking Monday on his television program, The 700 Club,, Pat Robertson said the United States has the ability to "take out" Mr. Chavez, and said he thinks the time has come to use that ability.

Mr. Robertson accused Mr. Chavez of supporting communism and Muslim extremism, and said that killing him would be a "whole lot cheaper" than starting a war.

There was no immediate reaction from U.S. or Venezuelan officials.

Mr. Robertson has a history of controversial statements. In 2003, he suggested that a nuclear bomb be dropped on the U.S. State Department.

His comments come at a time of rising U.S-Venezuelan tensions. Mr. Chavez has accused the Bush administration of plotting his demise, and threatened to shut off oil exports. U.S. officials call his accusations ridiculous.

Some information for this report provided by AP.