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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2006, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Gem film prompts firms' defence
Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio plays South African mercenary Danny Archer
The diamond industry has hit back ahead of the release of Blood Diamond, a film expected to show diamond profits being used to fund wars in Africa.

The film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, will be released later this year.

It follows a South African mercenary jailed for smuggling in Sierra Leone, where civil war killed 50,000 people.

World Diamond Council president Eli Izhakoff said the industry was addressing the issue and would continue to do so.

Mr Izhakoff told Reuters that so-called blood diamonds - illegally traded to fund conflict - now make up less than 1% of those sold, compared with 4% in the late 1990s, the period of time in which the film is set.

Rapper Kanye West won a Grammy award for his song Diamonds from Sierra Leone earlier this year.

Amnesty International, which launched an appeal earlier this year, said diamonds mined in rebel-held areas of West Africa's Ivory Coast were still reaching the international market.

Mr Izhakoff said the diamond industry was not opposed to the film but wanted to make sure the story was told with the correct historical perspective.

The Warner Brothers studio, which is behind the film, was unavailable for comment.

Earlier this year, campaign group Global Witness said the industry had not done enough to tackle trade in "conflict diamonds".

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