UN renews commitment to help implement Colombia cease-fire

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Friday warmly welcomed the final peace agreement between the Colombian government and leftist rebels and reiterated its commitment to help implement and verify the cease-fire.

The council said in a statement that the U.N. political mission in Colombia will support the implementation of the "cessation of hostilities and the laying down of arms" by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The peace agreement ending more than 50 years of conflict was announced Wednesday after more than four years of grueling negotiations in Cuba. Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the cease-fire will take effect at midnight Monday and a national referendum on the peace deal will be held on Oct. 2.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced that the U.N. Peacebuilding Fund, in anticipation of the agreement, approved $3 million "for a project to support the collective reparations of victims in the armed conflict, and pave the way for the implementation of the peace agreement."

In a surprise move, both the government and FARC rebels asked the Security Council on Jan. 19 to establish a mission to monitor a cease-fire. The council authorized the political mission on Jan. 25 in a resolution co-sponsored by all 15 members, a rare occurrence in the powerful but often-divided U.N. body.

Malaysia's deputy U.N. ambassador Siti Hajjar Adnin, whose country currently holds the council presidency, read the brief statement Friday after Jean Arnault, who heads the political mission, briefed members behind closed doors on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's recommendations for its operation.

Ban said earlier this month that the U.N. mission will operate in 40 widely dispersed locations and require about 450 observers and a number of civilians.

Adnin said she expects the council to have further meetings on how the U.N. will carry out its role in Colombia.

Britain's deputy U.N. ambassador Peter Wilson called the peace deal "historic" and said that one issue council members are encouraging the U.N. to discuss with the Colombian government is who's going to pay for the political mission.

"I think overall the atmosphere in the council on this is extremely happy to see this very good piece of news," Wilson said, "and I think these are the kinds of details that we will want to be settling in a very cooperative matter."

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