Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is welcoming "the intention" of the government of Colombia and leftist rebels to establish a cease-fire by the end of the year.

The U.N. chief believes "this would be a decisive step towards ending the conflict," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Friday.

Ban hopes the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels "will seize the upcoming round of talks in Havana as an opportunity to move forward" on deciding the method to monitor and verify a cease-fire, which will include the United Nations and the international community, he said.

Dujarric said the U.N. expects the parties to finalize their discussions soon. He said a joint request is then expected to be submitted to the U.N. Security Council to authorize the monitoring and verification process.