Talks Between Govt. & Op.Forces In Côte D'ivoire
UN TAKING PART IN TALKS BETWEEN GOVERNMENT, OPPOSITION FORCES IN CÔTE D'IVOIRE
New York, Apr 19 2005 3:00PM
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Côte d'Ivoire is taking part in talks, scheduled to start today in the country's east, on withdrawing heavy weapons from the frontline between Government forces and opposition troops in the West African nation.
The UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) also welcomed meetings last Thursday and Saturday between the Government's Defence and Security Forces of Côte d'Ivoire (FDS) and the opposition Armed Forces of Forces Nouvelles (FAFN) as "a significant move forward in support of the peace momentum in the country."
The contact was called for in the latest peace agreement brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki earlier this month in South Africa's capital, Pretoria, on behalf of the African Union (AU).
Ivory Coast, the world's leading cocoa producer, has been split between the rebel-held north and the Government-controlled south since a coup attempt against President Laurent Gbagbo failed in 2002. The parties signed a peace agreement in January 2003 in Linas-Marcoussis, France, and a supplement to it last July in Accra, Ghana.
Meanwhile, UNOCI chief Pierre Schori met his counterpart for Liberia on Sunday for talks on cooperation between the two UN peacekeeping missions on deploying border patrols, supporting weapons embargoes and stopping the cross-border recruitment of mercenaries and child soldiers.
Mr. Schori, who arrived a week ago, met Jacques Paul Klein, who heads the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), in Liberia's capital, Monrovia.
They discussed allegations that Liberian children from armed militias in their own country were now being recruited for combat in Côte d'Ivoire and "noted that mixed border patrols would help keep up surveillance on the circulation of small arms and mercenaries."