Blair hails Egypt’s role in Gaza truce

January 28th, 2009 - 8:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Cairo, Jan 28 (Xinhua) International Quartet’s envoy for the Middle East and former British prime minister Tony Blair Wednesday praised the ongoing Egyptian efforts to consolidate a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.Following talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Blair said it’s the most important move to stabilize the fragile truce in Gaza, Egpyt’s MENA news agency reported.

Both Israel and the Islamic Hamas movement declared ceasefire on Jan 18 following the 22-day military offensive Israeli attacks.

The British leader said it’s important to maintain the ceasefire in order to implement an Egyptian initiative, which also calls for reopening the crossings, lifting the Israeli siege on Gaza and reaching inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

Palestinians in Gaza need “all forms of humanitarian aid”, he said and stressed that “it’s necessary to push forward Egypt’s efforts for the reconstruction of Gaza”.

The Israeli military operation had caused a severe humanitarian crisis in the enclave due to shortage of food and other basic needs of fuels and cooking gas.

On Tuesday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit voiced his hope that a lasting truce between Israel and Palestinian militant groups could be reached in early February.

As for the inter-Palestinian unity, Abul Gheit said he hopes a Palestinian reconciliation agreement “would be reached during the third week of February”.

According to earlier reports, Egypt has proposed to start a “lasting” truce between Israel and Palestinian militant groups on Feb 5 and resume the inter-Palestinian national unity dialogue on Feb 22.

The top Egyptian diplomat also said his country has taken initiative to host a meeting of all international donor countries on Feb 28 to generate revenue for the reconstruction of Gaza Strip.

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