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Colombia government and FARC rebels request UN observer mission to monitor disarmament

A joint statement from both sides of the decades-long conflict said they made the request to the UN Security Council. Colombia's lead negotiator hailed the agreement as an 'unequivocal determination' to end the conflict.

The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced on Tuesday that they have asked the United Nations for an international observer mission to monitor and verify rebel disarmament, marking another milestone in peace talks.

"We have decided to request the Security Council of the UN to establish, as of now, such a political mission with unarmed observers for a period of 12 months," both parties said in a joint statement read in Havana, where peace talks were launched.

The UN mission would comprise observers from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a 33-nation regional group.

It would head a tripartite body - including the government and FARC - to issue reports, make recommendations and settle disputes in the expected demobilization of around 7,000 rebels belonging to the group.

Humberto de la Calle, Bogota's lead negotiator, said that Tuesday's announcement signaled an "unequivocal determination" to end the decades-long conflict.

"Today's announcement is not just the start of an international process, it is the unequivocal demonstration of our desire to end confrontation," de la Calle said.

The announcement comes as negotiators from both sides of the half-century conflict are attempting to meet a March 23 deadline to formally end Latin America's longest guerrilla conflict.

In September, both parties signed a landmark deal that handles post-conflict justice.

The conflict, which erupted in 1964 following a peasant uprising, has left more than 220,000 people dead and six million others displaced.

ls/jm (AFP, Reuters, AP)