The European Union ambassador to Mozambique, Sven von Burgsdorff, has expressed conviction that in the coming days there will be notable advances which may lead to the restoration of lasting peace in this southern African country.

He was speaking to journalists here Thursday after an audience granted by President Filipe Nyusi which he described as constructive, transparent and open.

I am convinced that in the coming days and weeks there will be notable advances. We are willing and ready to provide support with all means available, he added.

An EU representative, Mario Raffaelli, is the co-ordinator of the international team which has been mediating sporadic negotiations within a Joint Commission set up between the government and the rebel movement, Renamo.

When a breakthrough was last achieved, no foreign mediator was involved. As the Mozambican government had long suspected, direct talks between Nyusi and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama proved far more fruitful than agonisingly slow negotiations in Maputo hotel rooms.

The international mediators had been unable to secure a cessation of hostilities but one phone call between Nyusi and Dhlakama, on Dec 26, was enough for Dhlakama to declare a week-long truce and order his militia to stop shooting. A second phone call, a week later, extended the truce to early March.