UN chief in talks on possible Middle East truce

Written by: IANS
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Ban Ki Moon
United Nations, July 26: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been in intense discussions with a number of key interlocutors, including Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry and US Secretary of State John Kerry, to build support for a possible ceasefire in Israel and Gaza, a UN spokesperson said Friday.

On the secretary general's diplomatic efforts in the region, Farhan Haq, the deputy UN spokesperson, said at a daily briefing that Ban had also spoken by phone with the foreign ministers of Turkey and Qatar to see what kind of pressure could be brought on all side to obtain a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, a radical militant group in Gaza.

The UN chief Friday also spoke to the staff of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza by video link to express his deep appreciation and thanks for the brave work that they were doing, Haq said.

The secretary general has repeatedly called for an immediate halt to the fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, urging the parties to look at root causes of the violence so that the fighting that Gaza has experienced in recent years does not recur, Haq added.

On Thursday, a strike on a UN school in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza killed at least 15 Palestinians and injured 200 others, mostly women and children.

Ban arrived in Cairo Thursday after visiting Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership said early Saturday that it has been discussing with the Palestinian factions the proposals for ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

After a meeting chaired by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) executive committee discussed the 12-hour UN-proposed humanitarian truce as well as a proposal for a seven-day ceasefire.

The leadership said in a statement that it has been holding discussions with all the Palestinian factions and other countries, mainly Egypt, the possibility to end the Israeli offensive on Gaza as well as meeting the demands of the Palestinian people.

The PLO' executive committee has also stressed that lifting the blockade of Gaza should be the first step toward ending the Israeli military escalation, urging the Palestinians everywhere to continue their peaceful demonstrations in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Earlier on Saturday, Islamic Hamas movement accepted a 12-hour humanitarian truce proposed by the UN.


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