Ghana and Ivory Coast leaders discuss maritime dispute: parties

By Tom Miles and Kwasi Kpodo

By Tom Miles and Kwasi Kpodo

GENEVA/ACCRA (Reuters) - The presidents of Ghana and Ivory Coast on Monday held talks on a maritime dispute hanging over oil projects near their shared border, the two sides said in a joint statement released in Accra.

The talks held in Geneva between Ghana's John Mahama and Ivory Coast's Alassane Ouattara were brokered by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, the statement said.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) last month gave an interim ruling that Ghana could continue developing offshore projects in the disputed area, but imposed a ban on new drilling.

"The two presidents, true to the mutual vision of regional integration, have decided to engage in a process aimed at achieving cooperation as prescribed by the ITLOS," the joint statement said.

The two presidents reiterated their commitment to talks promoting regional integration for the benefit of their respective countries, it said, without giving any further details.

A source close to Annan earlier said the presidents would not be discussing the delimitation of the border, since that is under the jurisdiction of the ITLOS.

Last month's decision by the tribunal was regarded as positive for Ghana and British oil firm Tullow, which leads a consortium developing the TEN field, where it has already drilled the wells it needs to start production.

The tribunal did not judge the merits of the dispute, on which a final ruling is not expected until 2017.

Analysts have said that precedent suggests it is unlikely to redraw the current equidistant maritime boundary.

(Additional reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly in Abidjan; Editing by Kevin Liffey/Hugh Lawson)