West African Trio To Return To Ivory Coast Next Week

The three leaders representing a West African bloc will return to Ivory Coast next Monday to again try to defuse an escalating political crisis sparked by President Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to cede power.

Presidents Yayi Boni of Benin, Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde met Wednesday with Goodluck Jonathan, president of Nigeria, which chairs the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS), a spokesman for the group told CNN.

No details of the talks with the Nigerian president were immediately available.

The delegation traveled to Ivory Coast on Tuesday but failed to persuade Gbagbo to step down, even though ECOWAS has threatened military intervention.

The international community -- including the United States, the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union -- recognize challenger Alassane Ouattara as the president-elect of Ivory Coast, based on the results of the November runoff election certified by the country's Independent Electoral Commission and international observers.French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters in Paris Wednesday that only ambassadors sent with the approval of President-elect Ouattara would be recognized by European Union countries. According to the French Foreign Ministry, European Union representatives agreed last week on this element as part of a unified approach to the situation in Ivory Coast.

The new Ivorian ambassador to France has been named, Valero said, and was in the process of being approved.""In waiting for the finalization of this procedure, we are working with the Ivory Coast Embassy in Paris... in agreement with the legitimate authorities of that country,"" Valero said."