UNITED NATIONS - A U.N. panel of experts has demanded that Burkina Faso investigate weapons transfers to the rebel-controlled northern part of the neighboring West African state of Ivory Coast.
In a report to the U.N. Security Council obtained by Reuters on Tuesday, the panel also called on the Ivorian government to grant its members access to all sites and military installations where arms might be stored.
It urged the New Force rebels in the north to do the same.
The Security Council is expected later this week to renew for another year an arms embargo and other U.N. sanctions on the Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer which is still recovering from a civil war.
The embargo was imposed in 2004 over violations of a 2003 ceasefire between the government and the rebels.
An embargo on buying rough diamonds mined in the economic powerhouse of Francophone West Africa followed in 2005. The panel urged states to crack down on so-called blood diamonds from conflict zones that are often used to fund wars.
Among nations it said needed to step up efforts to stop the illegal export and sale of Ivory Coast diamonds were Israel, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Guinea and Liberia.
Ivory Coast's government has scheduled a long-delayed presidential election for November 29, but election officials have said a series of delays in preparing the poll will make it all but impossible to organize a vote next month.
The election is intended to seal a March 2007 peace deal between President Laurent Gbagbo and northern rebels, who fought a 2002-03 civil war. Peacekeepers from the United Nations and its former colonial master France are backing the election process.
Gbagbo plans to run for re-election against his arch-rivals Alassane Outtara and Henri Konan Bedie.
(Editing by David Storey)