HAVANA, Cuba–Colombia’s government and FARC rebels said Tuesday they have asked the United Nations to monitor the eventual end of their five-decade conflict, raising hopes they are close to a peace deal. Negotiators from both sides said they had asked the U.N. Security Council to send an unarmed observer mission to Colombia for 12 months to oversee the disarmament of the Marxist guerrilla group and the end of the conflict. They said the “political mission” would work alongside the FARC and the government in a tripartite body over which the U.N. observers will preside, overseeing a cease-fire, settling disputes, making recommendations and issuing reports. “This entity will begin work once the accord is signed,” said government and rebel negotiators in a joint statement in Havana, where they have been holding peace talks since November 2012. The mission will comprise observers from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a 33-nation regional group. The government’s chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, called it a “particularly significant step” toward peace. “Peace in Colombia is possible,” said his rebel counterpart, Ivan Marquez. President Juan Manuel Santos however made it clear that the U.N. “blue helmet” peacekeepers will not be needed.
“This has to do with unarmed observers, not a blue helmet peacekeeping operation,” Santos said.