Colombian president ‘optimistic’ about peace, to meet Obama Tuesday

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Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos gestures as he addressed a gathering at the University of Miami in Coral GablesBy David Adams MIAMI (Reuters) – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, bound for Washington on an official visit, said on Monday he remains cautiously optimistic about peace talks with Marxist FARC rebels taking place in Cuba. "I think the conditions are there" for a successful conclusion to the talks, Santos told an audience of academics, students and diplomats at the University of Miami. "Things are moving hopefully in the correct direction." But he quoted a Colombian proverb as a cautionary note, saying, "The bread can very well burn right at the door of the oven." Santos, a Harvard-educated journalist, spoke eloquently in English about his hopes for peace and economic growth in Colombia during a 30-minute speech at the invitation of University of Miami President Donna Shalala, who awarded him the school's President's Medal for service to society. Santos, on his second official visit to the United States since taking office in 2010, hailed both the year-old peace talks as well as economic progress at home.