New York - The United Nations on Wednesday called for dialogue between the Central African Republic's government and the Seleka rebels besieging the country, offering its help to organise talks.
"We continue to follow the situation with serious concern," UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said.
"We are calling on both the government and the rebels to focus on dialogue that can avert violence and lead to a peaceful resolution," he added.
The special UN representative for the country, Margaret Vogt, "is staying in close dialogue with the key parties in CAR and in the region and has offered the United Nations support for any political negotiations", Nesirky said.
According to diplomatic sources, peace talks are planned for January 8 in Gabon's capital, Libreville, and due to be mediated by Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who was named the region's point man on dialogue efforts.
Representatives from the Seleka rebel coalition and the opposition to President Francois Bozize said they had agreed to participate in talks, though they did not confirm the date.
In its lightening three-week advance, the Seleka coalition has seized many key towns and cities, come within 160km of the capital Bangui and threatened to seize it.
The rebels have accused Bozize of failing to honour several previous peace deals.