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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005, 07:01 GMT 08:01 UK
Ex-Colombia leader named US envoy
By Jeremy McDermott
BBC News, Medellin

Former Colombian President Andres Pastrana
Mr Uribe needs Mr Pastrana's electoral support
Former Colombian President Andres Pastrana is to become ambassador to Washington, one of the country's most important posts.

In a clever political manoeuvre, President Alvaro Uribe has neutralised a dangerous enemy in the former leader.

He has also gained a powerful spokesman for his recent controversial measures to pardon brutal right-wing militants.

For Mr Pastrana it is the last of the major political positions in Colombia that has eluded him.

Re-election bid

A former president and mayor of Bogota, he has now accepted what is regarded as the third most influential post in the country.

For President Alvaro Uribe it is a subtle and cunning political move.

He not only gains a powerful voice in Washington, one which can guarantee that the flow of US aid, estimated at more than $700m (400m) a year, continues, but he also removes a rival.

Mr Uribe is seeking re-election to the presidency next year and to win he needs the support of Mr Pastrana's Conservative Party.

With Mr Pastrana now firmly in the Uribe camp, the Conservative Party is unlikely to field a presidential candidate, instead backing Mr Uribe.

With the opposition Liberal Party hopelessly divided, Mr Uribe, with this one appointment, has brought his re-election hopes a giant step closer.

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