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Ivory Coast's Ongoing Crisis - 2002-09-30

Officials of the Economic Community of West African States say they hope to open negotiations between the Ivory Coast government and rebels to end a 12-day-old crisis.

Leaders of West African nations said they hoped negotiations would soon get under way to end the crisis, which began on September 19th when renegade soldiers attacked several cities and towns in Ivory Coast. The rebels continue to hold towns and cities in the center and north of the country.

Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States met Sunday in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, and agreed to deploy a multi-national force of peacekeeping troops in Ivory Coast.

The troops whose numbers would be in the thousands - would remain on standby while ECOWAS officials mediate talks between the government and the rebels.

ECOWAS officials say the peacekeeping force would intervene only if mediation failed.

The Ivory Coast government has been threatening a major offensive against the rebels.