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UN seeks to shore up Colombia ceasefire

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the ELN started a peace dialogue in Quito in February, seeking to end more than five decades of fighting (AFP Photo/HO)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The UN Security Council agreed on Tuesday that a new UN mission for Colombia could continue to monitor a ceasefire despite a referendum vote rejecting the peace deal.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos last week extended a ceasefire with the country's FARC guerillas until December 31 and said he hoped to have a new agreement for peace before that date.

The council "welcomed the parties continued commitment to uphold the ceasefire," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters following a closed-door meeting.

He said the council had received a request from the parties "for the UN mission to monitor and verify the bilateral ceasefire" and that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would present recommendations on that mechanism.

Council members "encourage the parties and all political actors to continue momentum in the peace effort," said Churkin, who holds this month's council presidency.

The victory for the "No" vote in the October 2 referendum was a stunning setback to a nearly four-year effort to end Latin Americas last major guerrilla war.

Santos launched negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after taking office in 2010, with the two sides sealing a deal on August 24 in Havana to end the conflict, which has claimed 260,000 lives.