SLUG: 2-296184 Ivory Coast Talks
TITLE=IVORY COAST / TALKS (S)
INTRO: Rebels and Ivory Coast government officials are pressing ahead with talks aimed at ending a seven-week old insurrection in the West African country. V-O-A's Luis Ramirez reports from Abidjan.
TEXT: Mediators brokering the talks in Togo said delegations representing the rebels and the Ivory Coast government were preparing to discuss the rebels' key demands Thursday. These include President Laurent Gbagbo's resignation and the holding of new elections within six months.
Rebels have repeatedly said they will stick to these demands, while the government has said it will not accept them under any circumstances.
There were few signs of progress following the initial session of the second round of talks that got under way on Wednesday, but mediators say they remained hopeful that headway would be made.
West African military officials, meanwhile, gathered for a second day Thursday in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to discuss plans for the deployment of more than one thousand West African peacekeepers in Ivory Coast.
Hundreds were killed in the first weeks of fighting. Hostilities have been on hold since a cease-fire went into effect three weeks ago. (Signed)
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