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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 April 2007, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Uribe defends human rights record
By Will Grant
BBC News, Miami

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe
Alvaro Uribe has rejected accusations against him
Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe has defended his human rights record during a visit to the US city of Miami.

His comments came after Al Gore withdrew from a conference on climate change in Latin America, to avoid a joint appearance with Mr Uribe.

Mr Gore said he would not attend because of recent allegations linking Mr Uribe, and government members, to right-wing paramilitary groups.

The scandal in Colombia has become increasingly embarrassing for Mr Uribe.

The former US vice-president and environmental activist said he did not want to share a table with Mr Uribe because of what he called deeply troubling claims.

The record in government, the record in my political life is my only defence [with which] I can oppose this criticism
Alvaro Uribe

The accusations against Mr Uribe include one by a key opposition senator that paramilitary groups used farms belonging to Mr Uribe's family to carry out meetings and killings in the 1990s.

Mr Uribe rejected that claim in a televised address earlier this week.

And, when he reached the forum in Miami, he said it was unfortunate that Mr Gore was not prepared to listen to Colombia's plans on environmental protection.

"My strong determination many times is the cause of belligerent criticism against my government," he said.

"But the record in government, the record in my political life is my only defence [with which] I can oppose this criticism."

The US state department has already made it clear that Al Gore in no way reflects the feelings of the current administration towards Mr Uribe or his government.

But the incident comes after another influential member of Democratic Party in the United States, Senator Patrick Leahy, ordered a temporary freeze on tens of millions of dollars of military aid to Colombia in the wake of similar allegations against the head of the Colombian military, Mario Montoya.

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