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Security Council continues UN Colombia monitoring

The Security Council has agreed to the UN's continued monitoring of Colombia's peace process. In a referendum in early October, voters rejected a hard-fought peace deal with guerrillas.

The Security Council agreed to continue the UN's monitoring  of the government's ceasefire with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after a failed referendum to make the hard-fought truce permanent. Last week, President Juan Manuel Santos and the rebels extended the ceasefire until December 31.

The council "welcomed the parties' continued commitment to uphold the ceasefire," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Tuesday. He added that the council received a request from the parties "for the UN mission to monitor and verify the bilateral ceasefire" and that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would present recommendations on that mechanism. Members "encourage the parties and all political actors to continue momentum in the peace effort," said Churkin, who holds the Security Council's presidency this month.

The stunningly narrow "No" vote by a relatively small number of voters on October 2 set back a nearly four-year effort to end Latin America's last major guerrilla war. Santos, whowon the Nobel Peace Prize this month for staking his legacy to ending Colombia's five decades of conflict, launched negotiations with the FARC after taking office in 2010. The two sides sealed their deal on August 24 in Havana, Cuba, providing hope for an end to a conflict that has claimed nearly 220,000 lives.

'A lasting peace'

Representatives from the Security Council's 15 countries consulted with Jean Arnault, the UN chief of mission in Colombia, who asked that the agency continue to verify the bilateral ceasefire. Several ambassadors also signaled their desires to see the ceasefire continue and made clear that they wanted to the United Nations to help ensure it.

"The idea is continuity," France's Francois Delattre said. Despite the result of the referendum, the United Nations, FARC and Colombia's government could work together "to put an end to the war and create the conditions of a lasting peace," he added.

The members of the Security Council did not consider it necessary to adopt a new resolution following voters' rejection of the peace deal. Delattre said the texts already approved had "everything necessary to work and continue the support expressed by the Security Council."

Uruguayan Ambassador Elbio Rosselli also said continuity was the goal and that his country stood "enthusiastically with the commitment of the government and FARC to maintain the ceasefire and ensure that all remain well."

mkg/jr (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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