The UN says three generals loyal to Ivory Coast’s besieged President Laurent Gbagbo are negotiating terms for surrender in return for guarantees of safety for him and themselves.
France says negotiators are on the brink of agreeing his departure.
Mr Gbagbo is sheltering with his family in the basement bunker of his residence in the main city, Abidjan.
Troops loyal to Mr Gbagbo’s rival, UN-recognised President Alassane Ouattara, say they have surrounded the compound.
The UN says Mr Gbagbo’s military and civilian advisers are leaving him.
Three of his generals – the head of the armed forces, the head of the police and the head of the republican guard – have opened negotiations, the UN told the BBC’s Andrew Harding, who is on the outskirts of Abidjan.