Talks to end Ivory Coast's post-election standoff remain in deadlock, with no sign Laurent Gbagbo will agree to step down as president and his rival unwilling to meet him until he does, mediators said on Tuesday.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga met Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara on Monday and remains in the West African nation to try to end their power struggle since the disputed election in November.

There is no agreement on any (face to face) meeting. As you know he (Ouattara) has a condition on that: he wants to be recognised as winner in the election, Odinga's spokesman Salim Lone told Reuters by telephone.

It's a very difficult situation, but I believe we are making some slow progress, Lone said.

Ouattara is widely recognised by Western and African governments as president-elect, after the electoral commission proclaimed him winner of the November 28 presidential poll and the results were certified by the U.N. mission.

However, Gbagbo has refused to step down and he retains control of government buildings, state television and the security forces, while Ouattara's parallel administration is based in a U.N.-guarded hotel under siege by pro-Gbagbo forces.

Odinga met with diplomats on Tuesday for briefings, but had not carried out further talks with either camp by afternoon.

We hope progress will be made later in the day, but we will see, said French Ambassador Jean-Marc Simon after meeting him.

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg demanded on Tuesday that Gbagbo go and go now.

The European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on Gbagbo and his inner circle, while efforts continue to squeeze his access to funds.

Ivory Coast missed a payment on its $2.3 billion bond at the end of December, but has until February 1 before it goes into default.

Cocoa output from the world's biggest producer is higher than last year despite the crisis, exporters have said.


Ouattara's prime minister, Guillaume Soro, has called for a dead nation -- a general strike starting on Tuesday, after two previous strike calls went unheeded. Traffic was only slightly lighter on Abidjan's palm-lined roads and many shops were open.

In some pro-Ouattara neighbourhoods, youths burned tyres in the road, witnesses said. But many Ivorians ignored the call.

There's nothing else we can do, we have to work. And then they go and announce there's a general strike. So what shall we do to eat? said property agent Simon Dago, on a street bustling with hooting taxis and women carrying baskets of goods for sale.

The U.N. mission estimates at least 247 people have been killed since the dispute began, many in night-time raids by security forces or allied militias in pro-Ouattara neighbourhoods. Gbagbo's camp denies this.

As relations between Gbagbo and the mission deteriorate, his forces and supporters have attacked U.N. patrols.

Peacekeepers fired warning shots to disperse pro-Gbagbo youths who surrounded them near Odinga's hotel on Monday, witnesses said, prompting police to fire warning shots back.

The mission said in a statement on Tuesday the peacekeepers were fired on by armed elements first.

Odinga last travelled to Ivory Coast on January 4 with the presidents of four West African countries on an African Union mission which failed to persuade Gbagbo to give up power. Gbagbo and his camp have said many times however that he is willing to meet Ouattara many times

Military chiefs of West African regional bloc ECOWAS were meeting in Mali on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of an intervention to remove Gbagbo. However the group is seen as divided on the feasibility of doing so.

Lone said the goal was still to get Gbagbo to quit.

When you are negotiating: you don't say 'you must go'. You try to persuade the party to go. A negotiated agreement is in both parties' and the country's interest, he said, noting that if, forced out, Gbagbo's supporters could cause trouble.