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Ivory Coast Peace Talks Begin in Accra - 2004-07-29

A third round of Ivory Coast peace talks are underway in the Ghana. Heads of state from 10 African nations and the U.N. Secretary General are attending the talks with the aim of persuading all the political and rebel parties from Ivory Coast to implement a peace accord they have already agreed to.

Heads of state from at least 10 African countries including South Africa, Gabon and many of the members of the Economic Community of West African States are attending the meeting in Accra to discuss the political crisis taking place in divided Ivory Coast.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who is chairing the summit along with Ghanaian president John Kufuor, says he is optimistic about the talks but stresses that all of the factions from Ivory Coast must come to the summit with open minds.

"I am hopeful. I am hopeful that we will be able to build on the progress that we made in Addis Ababa and help move the process forward," says Mr. Annan. "But it is extremely important that the leaders who are coming here put their nation first and come determined to patch up their differences, to forget individual ambitions and to think of the people in the nation. And I think, in that spirit, they may surprise themselves."

Many of the heads of state attended the African Union summit in Ethiopia earlier this month and discussed their concern over the political impasse in the world's number one cocoa producing nation.

Ivory Coast has failed to implement a peace accord signed in January last year and there is great concern that instability there could spill throughout the West Africa region.

The summit has been billed as a last effort in overcoming the political divide but Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo said Wednesday that it should not be seen as the final chance to reunite the country.