Colombian President Visits KU, Dole Institute

LAWRENCE, Kan, (WIBW) - A presidential visit to the University of Kansas gave the school a chance to honor one of its most distinguished alumni.

President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia says the last time he was at the school, he was just a common student.

His return to his alma mater has been 40 years in the making.

"I've been trying to come back to Kansas for a long time," he said.

Santos met with students and participated in a question and answer sessions with the KU community and members of the public at the Dole Institute of Politics.

It was a high honor for the president as well as the university, where he studied business and economics as an undergrad.

During his visit, Santos received the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, the highest honors given by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Santos says it is here at KU that he's learned about the American way of life and the values of freedom and democracy. It's those lessons that have helped him forge a strong relationship with the United States, one, he says, has been crucial in the region.
"The conflict with FARC the rebel group that has been at war with the Colombian state for over 50 years, needs to have a negotiated way out. That's what I hope to achieve," he said. "If they have a will, we have a will. This would mean a huge step for Colombia and for the whole region. And in a way its a culmination something Colombia and the US started some years ago," he said.

The Dole Institute was filled to capacity, including an overflow room. Colombian native and Olathe resident Catalina Perez, who was among the audience, said she took heart in Kansans' interest in US-Colombia affairs..

"I was surprised not to see many Colombians. A lot of KU students came to see him back, and a lot of current students," she said. "So it's an honor for me being Colombian that a lot of people are interested in what he's saying. "

The president continued on this afternoon to New York, where hell be joining other world leaders at the general assembly of the United Nations.

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