Firebrand Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has defended his description of President George W Bush as the devil, in an interview accusing the US intelligence services of plotting to kill him.
In his first comments to the US media since he called Bush a "devil" at the United Nations last September, Chavez said he stood by his speech but that personal remarks about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were only a joke.
"Yes, I call him a devil in the United Nations," Chavez said in the interview with ABC television, which was due to be broadcast later on Thursday.
"That's true. Another time, I said that he was a donkey just because I think that he is very ignorant -- about the things that are actually happening in Latin America and the world," he added.
Chavez made the devil comment at last year's General Assembly, addressing the United Nations just hours after Bush had stood at the same lectern.
"If that is an excess on my side, I accept. And I might apologise. But who is causing more harm? He burns people, villages and he invades nations."
Chavez also accused Bush of planning a coup against him and said the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was trying to assassinate him.
"If something happens to me, if I get killed, the president of the United States should be held responsible," he said.
But in one possible olive branch to the United States, he said his previous comments that Rice was an illiterate who suffered from sexual frustration were just meant as a joke.