U.N.: Surrender Talks Still Ongoing with Ivory Coast's Gbagbo


Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo is still in contact with international representatives about a possible surrender even though his residence is under attack, a U.N. spokesman said Wednesday.

"Discussions continue with the U.N. using its good offices to the fullest extent possible," U.N. peacekeeping department spokesman Nick Birnback told Agence France Presse.

A French government source said earlier that negotiations with Gbagbo over him giving up had failed. Forces loyal to internationally recognized president Alassane Ouattara have launched an offensive on Gbagbo's residence in Abidjan.

The United Nations said on Tuesday that three of Gbagbo's senior generals had asked for talks on a ceasefire and conditions for the incumbent leader to give himself up.

Diplomatic sources said various contacts with Gbagbo's representatives were held during the day but that the rogue leader's camp did not follow up on the offers made.

They warned that if heavy weapons are used in the Abidjan conflict then U.N. attack helicopters could be called into action again. U.N. and French helicopters attacked Gbagbo's rocket launchers in Abidjan on Monday, setting up what many see as the final battle for control.

Gbagbo has faced growing international isolation since refusing to acknowledge Ouattara's U.N.-certified victory in a presidential election last November. Hundreds have died in conflict between followers of the two sides since then.