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Cte d'Ivoire: Annan hails return of opposition group to Government

7 January Voicing hope that the peace process in Cte d'Ivoire will gain new momentum, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the return of the opposition Forces Nouvelles to a meeting of the Government of National Reconciliation for the first time since it suspended its participation in September.

Mr. Annan urged all Ivorian parties to abide by their commitment to implement the Government's work programme and the Linas-Marcoussis peace agreement until the elections scheduled to be held in late 2005, according to a statement issued by his spokesman.

"The Secretary-General hopes that the return of the Forces Nouvelles to the Government will give fresh impetus to the peace process," spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

The agreement signed in Linas-Marcoussis, France, in January last year ended fierce fighting between the Government and rebel forces in the northern and western regions of the West African country.

A small United Nations mission (MINUCI) of 34 military liaison officers is in the country to monitor security and build confidence between the government's Forces Armees de Cte d'Ivoire and the northern Forces Nouvelles. French peacekeepers are stationed across Cte d'Ivoire with a view to separating rebel and government forces.

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