COMMITMENT TO PEACE: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (right) receives his Nobel Peace Prize medal and diploma from Norwegian Nobel committee member Berit Reiss-Andersen in Oslo.
COMMITMENT TO PEACE: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (right) receives his Nobel Peace Prize medal and diploma from Norwegian Nobel committee member Berit Reiss-Andersen in Oslo. Lise Aaserud

Peace deal earns Nobel Prize for Colombian leader

COLOMBIAN President Juan Manuel Santos has accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the country's long civil war, calling it a "gift from heaven”.

In a speech at Oslo's city hall he dedicated the prize to all Colombians - in particular the 220,000 killed and eight million people displaced in the 50-year war against the FARC insurgency.

"Ladies and gentlemen, there is one less war in the world and it is the war in Colombia,” he said.

He won the award for reaching a historic peace deal with the leftist rebels, officially known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, where they agreed to lay down their weapons in exchange for a partial amnesty for war crimes.

Several victims of the conflict attended the prize ceremony, including Ingrid Betancourt, who was held hostage by FARC for six years.

Leyner Palacios, who lost 32 relatives including his parents and three brothers in a mortar attack, was also there.

"The FARC has asked for forgiveness for this atrocity, and Leyner, who is now a community leader, has forgiven them,” the President said.

FARC leaders, who cannot travel safely because they face international arrest orders issued in the US, were not in Oslo.

Mr Santos also used his Nobel speech to reiterate his call to "rethink” the war on drugs "where Colombia has been the country that has paid the highest cost in deaths and sacrifices”.

He has argued that the decades-old, US-promoted effort had produced enormous violence and environmental damage in nations that supply cocaine.

"It makes no sense to imprison a peasant who grows marijuana, when nowadays, for example, its cultivation and use are legal in eight states of the United States,” he said.

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