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Bush to Discuss Military Aid During Colombia Visit


U.S. President George Bush makes a brief visit to Colombia Sunday to meet President Alavaro Uribe on the third stop of his five-nation Latin American tour.

The two leaders are expected to discuss U.S. support for Colombia's fight against drug trafficking and rebel groups. Mr. Uribe's government has received four billion dollars in U.S. aid in the past seven years.

Some Democratic Party lawmakers in the United States have raised questions about the level of aid, particularly because of a scandal linking some Uribe allies to paramilitary groups.

About 20,000 security personnel have been deployed in Bogota to prevent rebels from disrupting Mr. Bush's seven-hour stay. He is the first U.S. president to visit the Colombian capital since Ronald Reagan in 1982 because of security concerns.

President Bush arrives in Colombia from Uruguay, where he emphasized the U.S. friendship with Latin America during talks with Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez.

Mr. Bush declined to respond directly to comments from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is making his own regional tour and has attended anti-Bush demonstrations.

President Bush said his administration is focused on what he called "quiet and effective diplomacy" in Latin America aimed at improving the "human condition."

From Colombia, President Bush heads to Guatemala and Mexico - countries with which the United States enjoys friendly relations.

He began his week-long tour in Brazil, where he met with his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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