September 29, 2016 / 3:56 PM / 3 years ago

Pope Francis to visit Colombia in first quarter of 2017: president

Pope Francis talks as he leads the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Pope Francis will visit Colombia in the first quarter of next year, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Thursday, days after signing a peace deal with Marxist rebels which the pontiff has actively backed.

Santos and the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebels signed a peace accord on Monday to end 52 years of war. Pope Francis repeatedly expressed his support for the deal over four years of negotiations.

“We can confirm that he will come in the first quarter,” Santos said at a business conference in Bogota. “The first quarter of next year, he will come to Colombia for four days, which is an incredible honor.”

The visit will be third by a pope to the Andean nation.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Alan Crosby

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