Saudi foreign minister calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire (Second Lead)

January 16th, 2009 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Jan 16 (IANS) Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal Friday called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Chairing a special session of Arab foreign ministers in Kuwait Friday ahead of the Jan 19-20 Arab Economic Summit there, Prince Saud said the UN Security Council Resolution 1860, which calls for a ceasefire, could be implemented “through Egyptian efforts to provide a swift implementation mechanism and stepping up pressure on Israel to abide by the resolution”.

Resolution 1860 was adopted by the UN Jan 8 after Israel launched sustained attacks on Hamas-held Gaza, which entered the third week Friday and have claimed over 1,100 Palestinian lives so far.

The new UN resolution has called for an “immediate ceasefire in Gaza leading to a full Israeli withdrawal, unimpeded provision through Gaza of food, fuel and medical treatment, and intensified international arrangements to prevent arms and ammunition smuggling”.

During the course of the meeting in Kuwait, the Saudi foreign minister called for a possible effort to get back to the UN Security Council for an executive resolution, the state-run Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported.

He also proposed a new fund for reconstruction work in Gaza.

The Arab League Secretariat might also seek to lodge a complaint with international courts, including American ones, against Israel over its war crimes against the Palestinians, Prince Saud was quoted as saying.

He wanted an “all-out dialogue” with the new incoming Obama administration in the US on this issue.

During Friday’s meeting, the Arab foreign ministers also discussed a memorandum of explanation by the Arab League on the developments in the Israeli military aggression and its serious repercussions, according to KUNA.

Citing a source in the meeting, the KUNA report said that the memo also dealt with “Arab political, humanitarian and relief support efforts to assist Gazans, in addition to international condemnations by the human rights council of the Israeli violations, pointing to the existence of evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip”.

At the Arab Economic, Development and Social Summit in Kuwait starting Monday, the Gaza issue is expected to top the agenda.

“Gaza will be in the heart of the summit due to be held in Kuwait, rather than on its margin or sidelines,” Kuwait’s acting Oil Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah had told the Al Arabiya television channel.

“It will be in the heart of the (Arab) leaders’ discussions,” he said.

All 22 leaders of the Arab League will gather in Kuwait for the summit.

Al-Sabah’s comments came in the wake of the emergency Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Riyadh Thursday night convened by Saudi ruler King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to discuss the Gaza situation.

Following that meeting, Prince Saud told media in Riyadh that among the most important achievements of the meeting was “the restoration of cohesion in the Gulf rank” regarding the situation in Gaza.

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