The Rev. Jesse Jackson has offered to go to China to work for the release of 24 U.S. servicemen and women.

"If a delegation appealing to the Chinese directly would help, we'd be willing to do that,'' Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. "We've done it before, and each time we were successful.''

Jackson, the leader of the Chicago-based Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, made the offer to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice a few days ago.

Jackson said he was not criticizing President Bush's efforts, but pointed to international disputes he has successfully mediated, including helping free Americans in Syria, Iraq and Yugoslavia.

"In each instance, we had to make a moral appeal,'' Jackson said. "You do it in a way that does honor to our country. Somehow, religious people can be a bridge.''

Jackson said he would not interfere with U.S. diplomatic efforts, but added that he thought the United States should apologize for the collision of a U.S. spy plane and a Chinese fighter that led to the present standoff between the two countries.

"I think our government should say: 'If we have violated you in any way, it was not intentional and we apologize,'" Jackson said. "Getting Americans home is worth expressing an apology.''