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International Community Expresses Concern Over Ivory Coast Fighting

The African Union, French and U.S governments and the United Nations have expressed grave concern over the renewed fighting in Ivory Coast. The international community is calling on rebels and the Ivorian military to implement the 2003 peace agreement.

The chairman of the African Union, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, released a statement Friday, saying he will host a crisis meeting of regional leaders on Saturday to revive the Ivorian peace process.

Government planes bombarded rebel positions in the north for the second straight day Friday, and there were troop movements from both sides, despite the presence of more than 10,000 French and U.N. peacekeepers.

Earlier Friday, the African Union commissioner for Peace and Security, Said Djinnit, said he hopes both sides will stop making things worse.

Mr. Djinnit says rebels and the government must implement a peace deal, which was amended several times since first being signed in France in January 2003.

The French government, which has sent more than 4,000 peacekeepers to its former colony, says it is closely monitoring the situation, according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Sylvie Massiere.

She says it's imperative that both sides avoid what she calls the "logic of the worst."

Ivory Coast's President Laurent Gbagbo, his supporters and the military have called on the rebels to disarm, while rebels and opposition leaders say Mr. Gbagbo must first ensure the implementation of key political reforms included in the peace agreement.

A key provision of the agreement, which is yet to be implemented, would give equal rights to many northerners whose citizenship is now in question.

The United Nations and the U.S government have also expressed concern about the deteriorating situation, urging restraint and respect for the peace accord.