- Associated Press - Friday, October 7, 2016

OSLO, Norway (AP) - The latest on the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (all times local):

1 a.m.

The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama has spoken with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to congratulate him on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work seeking to end the longest conflict in the Western Hemisphere.

Spokesman Eric Schultz says that in the conversation Friday evening, Obama also reiterated U.S. government support for the peace process as Santos pursues a national dialogue on the way forward for peace negotiations.

Colombian voters narrowly rejected the peace deal in a referendum Sunday. Obama said earlier in the day that the vote shows there is more work to be done.

The U.S. strongly supported Colombia’s peace talks with the FARC rebels.


11:15 p.m.

U.S. President Barack Obama says the Nobel committee “made the right decision” by awarding its peace prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to end a civil war that killed more than 200,000 Colombians.

Obama says Friday’s award sends the message that peace must be supported and encouraged in a world of conflict. He says the award also is a testament to Santos’ “unwavering and courageous” leadership through years of difficult negotiations with Colombian rebels seeking to produce an accord aimed at ending five decades of armed conflict.

Colombian voters narrowly rejected the peace deal in a referendum last week. Obama says that vote shows there is more work to be done. He says Santos and the Colombian people can continue to count on the United States as a partner in that process.

The U.S. strongly supported Colombia’s peace talks with the FARC rebels.


6 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says in a message of congratulations to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos that the peace process he initiated “gives many people, not just in Colombia, great hope for a better future.”

Merkel said Friday that the Nobel prize was “a very appropriate appreciation” of his efforts to overcome divisions.

She added: “I wish you and the Colombian people great strength, stamina and success in the future in taking the next steps on the way to lasting peace.”


4:55 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is hailing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, named winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, “for his courageous efforts to try to bring peace to Colombia.”

He said from Washington that he hopes that in the wake of the prize “this can still work out and get over the hurdles that remain,” referring to efforts to reach a peace deal acceptable to all sides.

Kerry added that he would speak to former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe later Friday.


4:30 p.m.

Former hostage Ingrid Betancourt says the Colombian rebel group that kept her captive for six years deserves to be included in the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to President Juan Manuel Santos.

Ingrid Betancourt told The Associated Press during an interview in Paris that “it’s hard for me to say it but I have to be just and, even though they were my captors. She says “I think that it’s true that they transformed themselves.”

Betancourt is a dual French-Colombian citizen. She was campaigning for Colombia’s presidency when she was kidnapped in 2002.

She was released in 2008 after six years as a hostage of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.


3:45 p.m.

Negotiators for Colombia’s government and largest rebel movement say they’re taking steps to guarantee a cease-fire doesn’t unravel while the two sides work together to save a peace accord defeated in a referendum.

At a joint press conference in Havana the two sides read a joint statement in which they pledged to listen to those who voted against the peace deal to “define quickly” a solution to the impasse in accordance with a recent constitutional court ruling.

The statement says: “The proposed adjustments and precisions that come about from this process will be discussed between the government and the FARC to provide guarantees to everyone.”

The two sides invited the United Nations to begin monitoring a cease-fire already in place along the terms established in the accord so that rebel fighters aren’t at risk.


3:30 p.m.

Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairwoman Kaci Kullman Five says the peace prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos shouldn’t be seen as a rebuke of the referendum in which voters rejected his peace deal with left-wing rebels.

“It is really not meant as a rebuke,” Five told The Associated Press. “We strongly underline the respect we have for the voice of the Colombian people.”

She said many Colombians who voted against the deal weren’t against the peace process, just “this specific agreement.”

Even though Santos won the prize alone, she said the award was also meant as “encouragement” to the FARC rebels.

“Giving the prize to Santos is not a belittlement to any of the other parties,” she said. “The FARC is obviously a very important part of this process.”

She noted that the FARC has made “important concessions and that (rebel leader Rodrigo) Londono stated after the referendum that the FARC reiterates this position, that it will use only words as weapons to build towards the future.”


3:10 p.m.

The top leader of Colombia’s largest rebel group is congratulating President Juan Manuel Santos for the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the other participants in talks to end the country’s long-running conflict.

The FARC leader known as Timoleon Jimenez says on his Twitter account that “peace would be impossible” without the efforts of Santos and the guarantors from Cuba and Norway, as well as participants from Venezuela and Chile.


2:30 p.m.

European Union policy chief Federica Mogherini says she is deeply moved that Colombian President Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Let me say how happy I am personally and all the European Union is for this prize that recognizes the determination, the vision of the great man of peace,” she said Friday during a visit to the Romanian capital, Bucharest.

She said she hoped it would lead to greater peace in Colombia, noting that the EU “has played an important role and continues to play an important role” in the peace process.

“I feel deep emotion … and I wanted this share this publicly,” she said, adding that the EU would continue support the peace process.


2:20 p.m.

President Juan Manuel Santos says the Nobel Peace Prize should serve as an incentive for all Colombians to rally behind a stalled peace accord with leftist rebels.

Santos said he was notified of the Nobel committee’s decision by his son, Martin, who woke him up before dawn Friday.

He dedicated the prize to his fellow Colombians, especially the victims of the long conflict, and called on his detractors who defeated the peace deal in a referendum Sunday to join him in securing an end to hostilities.

“I invite everyone to join our strength, our minds and our hearts in this great national endeavor so that we can win the most important prize of all: peace in Colombia,” Santos said alongside his wife during his first public appearance since winning the Nobel.


2:15 p.m.

Nobel laureate Juan Manuel Santos’ arch rival and predecessor is swallowing his pride and congratulating the president.

Colombians widely credit conservative hardliner Alvaro Uribe for forcing the FARC rebels to the negotiating table by leading a U.S.-backed military offensive that pushed them to the edges of the jungle during his 2002-2010 presidency.

Santos was Uribe’s defense minister most of those years but the two later angrily split and Uribe led the “no” campaign against the peace deal in Sunday’s referendum.

“I congratulate President Santos for the Nobel,” Uribe said on Twitter. “I hope it leads to a chance in the accords that are damaging for our democracy.”


2:10 p.m.

The previous Nobel Peace Prize winner from Latin America has some advice for Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos: don’t lose hope.

Guatemalan indigenous rights activist Rigoberta Menchu won the Nobel in 1992, but it wasn’t until 1996 that her Central American nation put an end to the three-decade civil war.

Speaking to Bogota’s Blu Radio, Menchu said that with the peace prize Santos will now be able to count on broad international support to see the peace process through after the deal he struck with the FARC rebels was narrowly rejected by voters in a referendum Sunday.

“This is an extraordinary stage for Colombia in its intense search for peace,” Menchu said. “Santos now has a lot to do to take Colombians down the path of peace.”


2:05 p.m.

Never mind about the Nobel Peace Prize, the head of the FARC says the only reward he wants is an end to Colombia’s entrenched conflict.

Rodrigo Londono, who was overlooked by the Nobel committee, reacted to the news of the prize for Colombian leader Juan Manuel Santos with a mercurial message on Twitter that’s bound to lend itself to multiple interpretations.

He said that the only prize the rebels want is peace with social justice and “Colombia without paramilitaries, without retaliations and without lies.”


2 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the choice of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for the Nobel Peace Prize is a “timely message” to all people working toward national reconciliation.

Ban said the awarding of the prize “tells them to keep working until they have brought the peace process to a successful conclusion.”

In a statement from Hamburg, Germany, Ban said Friday that the failure of Sunday’s referendum in Colombia on the peace plan “should not divide the millions of Colombians who strive to build a peaceful country.”

He added: “This award says to them: you have come too far to turn back now. The peace process should inspire our world.”


1:15 p.m.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says he’s deeply honored by the Nobel Peace Prize, which he dedicated to the people of his country.

“I receive this with great emotion,” Santos told the Nobel Foundation in an audio interview posted on its Facebook account.

“This is a great, great recognition for my country,” he said. “I am eternally grateful.”

“I receive this award in their name: the Colombian people who have suffered so much in this war,” he said. “Especially the millions of victims that have suffered in this war that we are on the verge of ending.”


12:50 p.m.

The Nobel Peace Prize is providing a much-needed boost to some 20 activists camping out for the past two nights in front of Colombia’s congress to demand the peace deal not be scuttled after its shock defeat in a referendum.

As media began to arrive at the Plaza Bolivar in the frigid, pre-dawn hours, the small group shouted “Peace Deal Now” and “Colombia Wants Peace.”

“This is a big help but we’re not leaving until there’s peace,” Juliana Bohorquez, a 31-year-old artist, said with a broken voice from having just woken up.

The group of activists settled in Bogota’s main Plaza Bolivar on Wednesday after thousands of Colombians marched in the streets to demand the government, FARC and opposition find common ground to save the accord.

Prize recipient President Juan Manuel Santos is expected to give a statement from the presidential palace on the far end of the plaza at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT).


12:45 p.m.

The head of the U.N. refugee agency says the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos recognizes “political courage.”

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi, who recently returned from Colombia, said he noticed an “extraordinary commitment” by Santos’ government, FARC rebels and civil society to make a peace plan in the country work.

Grandi noted the relevance to his agency’s work: Colombia has over 7 million internally displaced people, the “largest internal displacement situation” in the world.

Several U.N. officials in Geneva offered congratulations as word landed Friday of the choice of Santos during a regular U.N. briefing.

Spokesman Rupert Colville of the U.N. human rights office said the award recognition of the importance of the peace process, and hopes it will give a “boost” to it.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Santos, calling him a “man with a vision for his country,” spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.


12:15 p.m.

The Nobel Peace Prize awarded by the all-Norwegian committee is in part a self-recognition of that country’s pivotal role in the Colombian peace talks.

Norway along with Cuba has been a sponsor of the peace process since the outset. The public phase of talks began in Oslo in 2012 and the Norwegian government’s representative to the talks, Dag Nylander, has become a minor celebrity among Colombians who’ve followed every announcement from Havana on TV.

Norway’s‘ role as a peace facilitator around the world isn’t new. It helped broker the historic Oslo accord between the Palestinians and Israelis in 1993 and is currently facilitating talks bringing an end to a half-century-old communist insurgency in the Philippines.

“To succeed in being a facilitator you have to be a very honest broker and you can’t take sides,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende told The Associated Press in an interview last month while attending the peace deal’s signing ceremony. “You have to try to find common ground and be very, very patient.”

“It has been a bumpy road, there have been setbacks for sure,” he said. “For us we had to believe that a deal was possible and we had to believe it was a question of time.”


11:50 a.m.

Colombians are notorious among Latin Americans as being early risers, but the decision to award President Juan Manuel Santos the Nobel Peace prize even caught them sleeping.

Early morning radio programs are abuzz with the news but so far there’s been no reaction from President Santos.

Many Colombians thought that Santos was a shoo-in for the Nobel Peace prize after he signed a peace accord with the FARC on Sept. 26 in front of many world leaders and the U.N. Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon. But they assumed his chances faded after the deal fell apart in a referendum a week later.


11:40 a.m.

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos comes just days after Colombian voters narrowly rejected a peace deal that Santos helped bring about.

The award conspicuously left out Santos’ counterpart, Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Santos and Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, signed the peace deal last month, ending a half-century of hostilities, only to see a major setback in the shock vote against the agreement in a referendum six days later.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that rejection doesn’t mean the peace process is dead.

“The referendum was not a vote for or against peace,” it said. “What the ‘No’ side rejected was not the desire for peace, but a specific peace agreement.”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it believes that Santos, “despite the ‘No’ majority vote in the referendum, has brought the bloody conflict significantly closer to a peaceful solution.”


11:30 a.m.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Juan Manuel Santos, 65, is an unlikely peacemaker. The Harvard-educated scion of one of Colombia’s wealthiest families, as defense minister a decade ago he was responsible for some of the FARC rebels’ biggest military setbacks, including a 2008 cross-border raid into Ecuador that took out a top rebel commander and the stealth rescue of three Americans held captive for more than five years.

Under the peace deal he negotiated, rebels who turn over their weapons and confess to war crimes will be spared time in jail and the FARC will be reserved 10 seats in congress through 2026 to smooth their transition into a political movement.


11 a.m.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize Friday for his efforts to end a civil war that killed more than 200,000 Colombians.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the award should also be seen “as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process.

It did not cite his counterpart in peace negotiations, Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Santos and Londono signed a peace deal last month ending a half-century of hostilities only to see their efforts collapse following a shock vote against the agreement in a referendum six days later.

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