UN, Arab ministers agree to work closely on Gaza (Lead)

January 6th, 2009 - 8:50 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Jan 6 (Xinhua) UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said Monday that he and visiting Arab foreign ministers agreed to work closely so that the current Gaza conflict can end quickly.”We have had a very good exchange of views on the very serious matters of security situation in Gaza and southern Israel,” he said. “This meeting has provided an excellent opportunity (for) us to discuss how we can bring this violence to an immediate end, and to restore peace and stability in the region.”

Speaking to reporters here after his meeting with the visiting Arab foreign ministers, Ban said, “We have agreed to work very closely so that the Security Council can take decisive, swift and practical actions for a binding resolution to immediately end the violence.”

During the meeting, the UN chief and the Arab ministers also discussed how to bring durable peace to the region, which can be fully respected by all the parties concerned.

“We will continue to work very closely in the coming days” with the Security Council members and the key leaders in the region, Ban said.

The meeting also agreed on a practical mechanism to ensure protection for the Palestinians and the humanitarian personnel working in the region, he added.

Ban is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas Tuesday, and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Egypt will join them in the meeting.

The UN chief will also meet with US President George W. Bush Tuesday in Washington, to discuss the situation in Gaza.

The Security Council, which remains divided on Gaza, failed to reach consensus on how to end the violence in Gaza and southern Israel after three emergency meetings held since the outburst of violence on Dec 27.

Meanwhile, fierce clashes erupted Monday night in eastern and northern Gaza City between Palestinian militants and Israel soldiers in the eastern Gaza City.

According to witnesses, heavy and intensive tank shelling were going on in the Tufah neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, while Israeli troops were also engaged in gun battles with the militants in the region.

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