French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe acknowledged Tuesday that negotiations were underway with former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo to bring an end to the bloody conflict in that country.
Gbagbo was defeated by rival Alhassane Outtara in presidential elections last November but has refused to abide by the result of the vote and has embarked on a bloody civil war to try to stay in power.
On Monday, UN and French forces went into action against Gbagbo’s armed supporters in the economic capital, Abidjan, and attacked using helicopters to try to eliminate Gbagbo’s heavy weapons which France says were being used against civilian areas.
Speaking at a press conference beside his Romanian counterpart, Juppe, when asked about reports of a negotiation process with Gbagbo, said, “I know about it,” but he did not elaborate on French involvement in the talks.
Earlier, diplomats at the Foreign Ministry declined to confirm any talks with Gbagbo, but indicated they felt the conflict would not last for much longer.
Gbagbo is holding out in his Abidjan residence with loyalist forces and he is being gradually surrounded by Outtara militiamen and he has also been targeted by UN and French helicopters.