Former US president Jimmy Carter on Monday congratulated Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos on his efforts to negotiate peace with rebel group FARC and fighting river blindness.

In a meeting that took place between the two politicians, president Carter praised Santos for what he considered “an heroic act of wanting to lead the country [Colombia] to peace,” the Colombian President said on his website.

Carter said in a statement that “we were impressed with how intimately all the various issues are related, and how great the potential benefits from successful peace efforts can be to Colombia and to the entire hemisphere.”

Santos responded by saying that no matter how bad the situation of violence may be “dialogue was always an option.”

As well as overseeing the peace talks, the former president was able to take part in more good news.

On Monday, Colombia was officially able to celebrate the milestone achievement of being the first of 38 “endemic countries” to totally eradicate river blindness.

Source: Colombia Reports

Former president Carter had explained via his website that his trip to Colombia was brought forward a week at the request of Santos.

In a speech made by the President, he noted that it was a happy coincidence that Carter was there for the announcement. As a UNICEF delegate in the eighties, Mr Carter had overseen the vaccination program that saved the sight of many children.

Although this had previously been announced in 2011, three years of observation are required by the World Health Organisation (WHO) before official verification can take place.

In a statement released on his website, Santos said that the eradication was a “great triumph” for Colombia and the people involved in the eradication programme. He highlighted how this was not just an example to Latin America but also “the African nations that follow the same pilot.” Colombia has marked itself as a succesful forerunner in global health development.