Soro noted that Gbagbo had asked the president of neighbouring Burkina Faso to help mediate direct talks with the rebels, but said that contrary to some media reports, no such talks had taken place.


UN resolution


"Nobody has the right to refuse dialogue and co-operation in the pursuit of peace. All the same, this dialogue can not be envisaged outside resolution 1721. So it seems to me to be urgent that all participate to fully enact this resolution," Soro said in a statement distributed by the rebels in Bouake.


Resolution 1721 approved a further 12-month delay to a presidential election originally due in October 2005 but postponed because the country was split into the rebel-held north and government-controlled south, as it still is.


The resolution also extended the term of Charles Konan Banny, the interim prime minister, and strengthened his powers to arrange disarmament of former fighters, a national identification campaign and other steps towards reunification and elections now due by October 31.