Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Shalom Prize for his commitment to seeking peace in his country and worldwide.
The prize, bestowed Tuesday at a ceremony in Bogota, is awarded by the Latin American chapter of the World Jewish Congress based in Buenos Aires.
“Both the people here and the people in Israel have been seeking peace for decades,” Santos said upon receiving the award.
Prior to the ceremony, WJC President Ronald Lauder and Latin American Jewish Congress President Jack Terpins held a private meeting with Santos, who praised the Jewish community for supporting him in the controversial decision to engage in the current talks with the rebel group FARC.
Santos added that Colombia supports a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a two-state solution. However, a peace deal had to include the recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, he said, according to those present at the meeting.
The award was established to recognize individuals or organizations who seek peace. In 2008, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet received the award in recognition of his government’s efforts to build an inclusive society with full respect for minorities.