Leaders meet for peace

Leaders of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone began a three-day summit in Morocco on Wednesday, to explore ways to end insurgencies that have soured relations between their countries. An official at the Moroccan Foreign Ministry told IRIN that Morocco's King Mohammed VI convened the meeting in Rabat, the Moroccan capital, in the interest of peace in Africa.

The initiative brings together presidents Charles Taylor of Liberia, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone and Lansana Conte of Guinea. The three countries make up the Mano River Union, an entity aimed at fostering economic integration. However, economic cooperation has not been possible since the Mano River countries have been plagued by rebel wars.

The West African leaders, who arrived in Rabat on Tuesday, are accompanied by their ministers, who laid the groundwork for the summit. Morocco's official news agency, Maghreb Arabe Presse, reported on Tuesday that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told King Mohammed the UN was encouraged by his initiative.

"Annan hailed the move as a happy initiative that falls in line with the key role Morocco has ceaselessly played in favour of peace and security in Africa," MAP reported.

Liberia is still under UN embargo for its perceived support of Sierra Leone's former rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front, but with the war in Sierra Leone over, Monrovia says the embargo should be lifted. President Charles Taylor is facing a rebellion, which Monrovia believes is sponsored by Guinea, from dissidents calling themselves Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy.