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Hollande urges Ivory Coast’s Ouattara to seek reconciliation

French President François Hollande (left) urged Ivory Coast’s Alassane Ouattara (right) to seek dialogue with ousted strongman Laurent Gbagbo during talks in Paris on Thursday. Gbagbo clung to power in 2010 after losing the presidential election.


AFP - French President Francois Hollande on Thursday urged his Ivory Coast counterpart Alassane Ouattara to pursue reconciliation efforts in the West African country.

In talks here, Hollande "raised the question of the reconciliation needed between Ivorians, which occurs through dialogue, the fight against impunity and justice," his office said in a statement.

Ouattara's government has struggled with reconciliation efforts since he took power in April last year after ousting former leader Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to accept he lost a presidential election late in 2010.

About 3,000 people were killed in post-election unrest.

Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) this month accused authorities of having "absolutely no intention" of holding direct talks with the opposition.

A diplomatic source said French officials had "highlighted the importance of reconciliation" in talks with Ouattara, who was on a three-day visit to Ivory Coast's former colonial ruler.

"There are tools in place," the source said. "President Ouattara acknowledged that you need both players to be involved to have a dialogue."

Ouattara also thanked Hollande for France's cancelling of nearly all Ivory Coast's debt -- part of an international effort to grant the country debt relief as it seeks to rebuild its economy.

"This will allow us to strengthen investments in social sectors and I would like to say a big thank you," Ouattara said after the two emerged from talks.

The countries signed a deal Wednesday that will see France cancel 99.5 percent of Ivory Coast's debt, or about three billion euros ($3.7 billion), after Western creditors announced a $6.5 billion write-off last month.

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