Ivory Coast's main rebel movement on Saturday agreed to Paris peace talks with the government after mediation by the French foreign minister in a French diplomatic push to end the war in its former West African colony.
"We are anxious to spare the lives of our people," said rebel leader Guillaume Soro following a two-hour meeting with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. In addition, Soro promised his forces would respect a repeatedly violated cease-fire with government forces. "The Paris meeting is going to be the occasion to have everybody around the table," he said after the meeting at a French base outside the central rebel stronghold of Bouake. "We must face the situation, and we know that if we don't succeed, it's going to be a catastrophe in Ivory Coast."
The rebel promises came a day after the French Foreign Minister secured pledges from President Laurent Gbagbo to halt hostilities and evict foreign mercenaries fighting with loyalist troops. However, despite the apparent easing in tensions, another rebel faction reported fighting Saturday on the country's volatile western front, AP reported.
De Villepin stated the weeklong summit in Paris would begin on January 15 with the attendance of government, rebels, political parties and West African mediators.
The Paris summit will then be followed on January 26 by a meeting of West African heads of state, which UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is also expected to attend, he added. (Albawaba.com)
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