Colombia is preparing to welcome Pope Francis next week, and the country is working on multiple fronts to make sure they're ready. Nathan Frandino reports.
When Pope Francis arrives in Colombia next week, government officials are hoping to deliver a welcoming gift of peace... a unilateral ceasefire between the government and Marxist-led ELN rebels. The two sides are currently negotiating a peace deal in Ecuador. ELN lead negotiator Pablo Beltran says it will require compromise on both sides. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LEAD NEGOTIATOR FOR THE ELN, PABLO BELTRAN, SAYING: "A ceasefire of offensive operations - but in turn, a cessation, a suspension, of actions of each part that produces humanitarian relief." For his part, President Juan Manuel Santos says Colombia is ready for a deal... and excited to see the Pope. Francis arrives in Colombia for a four-day visit on September 6th. He'll also be holding mass in several cities. In Bogota, construction crews are preparing the stage for one of those services. About 600,000 pilgrims are expected to attend. Bishop Fabio Suescun Mutis says he has this message for the pope. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BISHOP FABIO SUESCUN MUTIS, WHO HEADS THE PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR POPE FRANCIS' VISIT, SAYING: "Colombia wants you to come, to be among us and to fill our hearts with Jesus, that is, with enthusiasm and joy." It will be the third visit by a pope to Colombia.