Pope Francis prayed for stability in Venezuela and pleaded for lasting peace in Colombia as he toured Bogota on Wednesday.
The 80-year-old Argentine pontiff's white popemobile was surrounded by jubilant crowds that descended on the 15-kilometer (9-mile) road from the airport to the center.
He told Colombians he wanted to bring a message of hope as they worked to unite the country in the wake of Latin America's longest-running armed conflict.
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"Continue on the path that you have been brave enough to start, which is called heroism," he told the young people.
"Don't let yourselves be beaten, don't let yourselves be fooled. Do not lose joy. Do not lose hope."
FARC disarmed, ELN pledge peace
His trip came after the disarmament of Colombia's FARC rebels, and a ceasefire with the country's last remaining guerrilla force, the ELN.
Read more: Colombia strikes ceasefire deal with ELN guerrilla group
The pope said he supported Santos' quest for a "complete peace" to end the civil war.
But Francis first addressed the growing unrest in neighboring Venezuela, amid President Nicolas Maduro's clampdown on the opposition and an economic crisis.
Francis sent his "cordial greetings" to Maduro and the Venezuelan people, "praying that all in the nation may promote paths of solidarity, justice and concord."
Francis was greeted by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who told reporters: "The Holy Father is now in Colombian territory. He has come for a very special purpose: to push us to take the first step to reconciling with one another."
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Francis was expected to call on Colombian leaders to address the social and economic disparities that helped fuel the conflict and to encourage forgiveness among a people divided over the terms of the peace deal.
"Peace is what Colombia has been looking for and working for such a long time," he said in a video message before the trip. "A stable and lasting peace, so that we can see one another and treat one another as brothers, not as enemies."
Former President Alvaro Uribe, who strongly opposed the peace deal, wrote a letter to Francis on Tuesday saying the peace deal had fueled a rise in drug trafficking and created economic uncertainties with the potential to destroy Colombia's social fabric.
aw/bw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)