On the same day Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was making international headlines with the launch of a peace-seeking initiative with a rebel group, it was announced Santos will return to his alma mater, Kansas University, later this month for a visit.
“We are honored to welcome President Santos back to the University of Kansas. He’s one of KU’s most distinguished alumni, and I’m very happy our students and community will get an opportunity to talk with him during his visit,” KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said.
On Tuesday, Santos, in Bogota, Colombia, gave a nationally televised speech announcing plans to start talks aimed at ending a century-old conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
FARC is considered a terrorist organization by Colombia and the United States.
The negotiations with FARC will start in October in Norway and continue in Cuba, Santos said.
Santos will be on the KU campus Sept. 24 to meet with students and participate in a 2:30 p.m. event at the Dole Institute of Politics. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Details on the format will be announced later.
Santos will receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, which is the most prestigious award given by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Santos graduated from KU in 1973 with degrees in economics and business.
He was elected president in 2010 and previously has served as finance minister and defense minister.
Santos created the Good Government Foundation (Fundación Buen Gobierno) and in 2005, founded the political party Partido de la U, currently Colombia’s largest political party.
In addition, he was a journalist, columnist and deputy director of the newspaper El Tiempo. He has published several books, including “The Third Way,” co-written with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and “Check on Terror” (Jaque al Terror).
Gray-Little extended an invitation to Santos to visit KU during a March 2011 meeting she had with him in Bogotá, Colombia.