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Progress Reported at Ivory Coast Peace Talks in Togo - 2002-10-31


The second day of peace negotiations between the Ivory Coast government and rebels has ended with both sides saying they have made progress toward ending the country's six-week-old insurrection.

Talks in the Togolese capital, Lome, are due to spill into a third day as delegations of the Ivory Coast government and rebels work to find a common ground.

At the end of the second day of negotiations, the delegations issued a joint statement outlining a basic agenda of how the discussions will proceed.

Both sides agreed in principle to abstain from carrying out summary executions, revenge killings and hiring of mercenaries all in the interest of making conditions in Ivory Coast favorable to dialogue and reconciliation.

The head of a West African team of mediators, Mohammed Ibn Chambas said much progress has been made in the two days of talks. The discussions have been the first face-to-face contact between the government and rebels since hostilities broke out on September 19.

Although mediators reported progress, the negotiators have yet to touch on the thorniest of issues, including the rebels' demands for Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo's resignation and the government's calls for rebels to disarm.

In their initial discussions, the two sides agreed to address the rebels' reintegration into the army and other side issues before discussing the rebels' political demands.

The rebellion has killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands more.

Fighting has stopped for the past two weeks since a cease-fire agreement went into effect. Ivory Coast, however, remains divided. The government controls the south and west, while a large part of the center and north of the country is in the hands of rebels.

Talks in Lome are due to resume Friday.