UN observers arrive in Colombia after signing of truce accord

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A first group of 23 UN observers has arrived in Bogota, capital of Colombia, to monitor the implementation of a historic ceasefire agreement signed last week to end a half-century civil war in the South American country, a UN spokesman said here Tuesday.

"These observers are from Argentina, Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay," Haq said at a daily news briefing here, adding that they joined an advance team of about 20 civilian staff already in the country preparing for the establishment of the mission.

The Colombian government and FARC guerrilla group signed the historic agreement on June 23 in Havana, the Cuban capital, in order to bring an end to the civil war that started in the 1960s.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and top FARC commander Timoleon Jimenez presided over the signing ceremony, which was attended by world dignitaries, including Latin American heads of state and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"A second group of observers is expected to arrive at the beginning of July," Haq said.

"With their arrival, the UN will be able to begin monitoring and verifying activities as soon as a final peace agreement is signed and the bilateral ceasefire comes into effect," he said.

"For now, the team on the ground is engaging in preparatory activities, while the special representative of the secretary-general, Jean Arnault, is actively engaged in the discussions in Havana about ceasefire implementation," he said.

According to Latin American news network Telesur, the longest-running civil war in Latin America claimed 220,000 lives up to 2012, left 25,000 missing and displaced 5.7 million people. Endit

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