NEW YORK, Oct. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC congratulates Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on receiving the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee awarded Santos "for his resolute efforts to bring the country's more than 50-year-long civil war to an end."
AJC honored Santos with its Diplomatic Statesman Award in September 2012 for pursuing peace and for strengthening ties among Colombia, the U.S., and Israel.
"This AJC award is an injection of enthusiasm and inspiration to go forward, to keep going," said Santos, referring to his determination to negotiate with FARC to end five decades of conflict, at a luncheon at AJC headquarters in New York.
AJC CEO David Harris praised Santos at the time for his "acute vision to pursue policy goals to create a brighter future for his country, conviction to uphold core values of democracy and pluralism, and courage to sit down with enemies in Colombia."
When the Colombian government and the FARC announced in June an agreement ending a conflict that has left more than 220,000 dead and millions displaced, AJC was one of the first organizations to salute the breakthrough in peacemaking.
"The Colombian peace accord is a perfect example of what can be accomplished in direct talks when both sides are committed," AJC said in welcoming the peace agreement.
Santos promised to seek approval of the accord by the Colombian people in a national referendum. While voters narrowly rejected it in a referendum on October 2, both the government and the FARC have vowed to work towards carrying out the peace agreement.
"The Nobel Prize honors Colombia and its people, not only President Santos, and should encourage all sides to remain committed to the pursuit of sustainable peace," said Harris.
AJC, through its Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs (BILLA), maintains close, cooperative relations with Colombia. AJC signed an association agreement with the Confederación de Comunidades Judías de Colombia, the umbrella body of Colombian Jewry, in 2007.
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SOURCE American Jewish Committee