The chairman of the African Union is holding talks with Kenya's key political leaders Wednesday to mediate an end to the political crisis that has left nearly 500 people dead.

Ghanian President John Kufuor met briefly with President Mwai Kibaki before holding talks with opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Mr. Kufuor's efforts were complicated Tuesday when his Kenyan counterpart unveiled half the members of his new Cabinet - none of them members of Mr. Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement party.

The opposition denounced the appointments as evidence Mr. Kibaki is unwilling to negotiate an end to a stalemate following last month's disputed presidential election.

Mr. Odinga has turned down the president's offer to hold face-to-face talks on Friday, saying he would do so only in the presence of an international mediator.

A State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga need to find a way to open the channels of communication between them.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has extended the diplomatic mission of Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer. U.S. officials say Rice told Frazer to stay in the region for as long as she thinks her presence can be useful to defuse the Kenyan crisis.

The violence began after Mr. Odinga and his supporters accused Mr. Kibaki of rigging the December 27 vote to ensure his victory. The fighting has mainly been carried out between members of Mr. Odinga's Luo tribe and Mr. Kibaki's Kikuyus tribe.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.