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Colombia, FARC Rebels Ask UN to Observe Peace Deal

Ivan Marquez, chief negotiator of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, right, and Sergio Jaramillo, Colombia's government peace commissioner, shake hands in Havana, Cuba, after announcing a request for a U.N. observer mission, Jan. 19, 2016.

Colombian peace negotiators and FARC rebels asked the United Nations on Tuesday to monitor and verify peace between the two sides, another major step toward a final treaty.

The two sides made a joint request to the U.N. to send an unarmed observer mission to the country for one year as soon as a deal is signed.

The observers from Latin American and Caribbean countries will make sure the leftist rebels are laying down their weapons as promised and will intervene in any disputes that may emerge.

Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels have given themselves a March 23 deadline to sign a final peace deal that would end a 50-year guerrilla war aimed at toppling the Colombian government.

The fighting, kidnappings and other acts of violence have killed more than 220,000 people.