U.N. official meets Ivorian leader

Dec. 28, 2010 at 1:58 PM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- The first objective of the United Nations in the Ivory Coast is to fulfill its peacekeeping mandate, the world body's top peacekeeping chief said.

Alain Le Roy, the U.N. under secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, arrived Tuesday in the Ivory Coast to meet with the internationally recognized new president of the war-torn nation.

"As head of peacekeeping operations, my first objective is to come and support our missions, especially when they face particularly delicate moments as is now the case in the Ivory Coast," he said in a statement.

Le Roy said he met with opposition leader and presumptive President Alassane Ouattara during his visit.

"President Ouattara found that (U.N. peacekeeping missing in Ivory Coast) was fulfilling its mandate satisfactorily but said, however, that there were still improvements to be made," Le Roy said.

The U.N. mission is tasked monitoring a peace agreement that ended a 2002 civil war that divided the Ivory Coast between rebel-held north and a pro-government south. Le Roy didn't elaborate on Ouattara's suggestions during his formal statements.

Ouattara drew his support from the north, winning the backing of the country's election commission and the United Nations. His opponent, incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, has refused to step down and said he would consider U.N. peacekeepers part of the rebel forces in the country.

Le Roy said he requested a meeting with Gbagbo and was waiting for a formal response.

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