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Colombia's Santos says Nobel prize was 'gift from heaven' for peace


Norway

Colombia's Santos says Nobel prize was 'gift from heaven' for peace

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President Santos of Colombia says the Nobel Peace Prize, which he is due to receive in Oslo on Saturday, helped him seal an agreement with leftist rebels.

The award provided the impetus for new talks leading to a revised deal, signed last month between the government and the FARC.

A previous peace plan put forward by Santos was narrowly defeated in a referendum in October.

Juan Manuel Santos spoke in Norway on the eve of receiving his prize, saying the end of the conflict could have widespread economic and environmental benefits.

“The Nobel prize award was announced and it came like a gift from heaven, because it gave us a tremendous push. People in Colombia interpreted it as a mandate from the international community to persevere, to continue striving to achieve a new peace agreement, so it helped very very much,” he said.

In the first step towards peace, FARC guerrillas and UN observers have begun arriving in designated camps in the Colombian mountains.

Under the accord the rebels will begin to lay down arms; within five months all will be handed to the UN.

The FARC have also promised to help farmers switch to growing legal crops in remote areas to combat the cocaine trade.

Colombia’s five-decades old conflict has killed 220,000 people.

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