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Zuma arrives in Mauritania for Côte d’Ivoire talks

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pretoria- President Jacob Zuma has arrived in Mauritania on a working visit for the resolution of the crisis in C »te d’Ivoire, said the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

Zuma arrived in Nouakchott on Saturday in his capacity as a member of the African Union High-Level Panel that was established by the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) at the Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa last month.

« South Africa will assist in any way possible to help the people of Cote d’Ivoire to find a solution. We look forward to fruitful discussions with the affected parties in Abidjan this week, » said Zuma ahead of the talks.

The refusal of President Laurant Gbagbo to step down after Alassane Ouattara was pronounced as the winner of the country’s November 2010 polls plunged the country into political crisis.

Chaired by President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the Panel first met on 31 January 2011, to determine its programme of work.

A team of experts appointed by the panel will submit its findings to the members of the High-Level Panel at a preparatory meeting to be held in Nouakchott.

« The panel will thereafter travel to C »te d’Ivoire to meet with the parties and submit proposals for a resolution, » DIRCO spokesperson Clayson Monyela said, adding that the panel is expected to conclude its work before the end of February. It will also report back to the AU Peace and Security Council.

The Panel which represents the five regions of the continent comprises of the leaders of Burkina Faso (West Africa), Chad (Central Africa), Mauritania (North Africa), South Africa (Southern Africa), and Tanzania (East Africa).

President Zuma, who is accompanied by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, will return to South Africa on Tuesday.