Egypt talking to Hamas on 'durable' Gaza truce | world | Hindustan Times
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Egypt talking to Hamas on 'durable' Gaza truce

world Updated: Jan 18, 2009 18:27 IST

Egypt held talks with Hamas on Sunday in the hope of consolidating Israel's unilateral ceasefire declaration in the Gaza Strip into a truce between the Jewish state and Palestinian factions.

"We are working with Hamas, and discussions were held today with them. As soon as Hamas's position is clarified we will let Israel know and wait for them to come," foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told AFP.

He said that an Egyptian peace initiative, floated on January 6 calling for a ceasefire, reopening Gaza's borders, ending weapons smuggling and restarting Palestinian reconciliation talks, "is still valid and alive."

The talks came as Palestinian armed factions meeting in Damascus offered a one-week ceasefire in the Gaza Strip "in order to open border crossings and allow in humanitarian aid", a spokesman for Islamic Jihad in Gaza told AFP.

Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza Strip from Sunday, although sporadic clashes took place later.

"Obviously, there are some violations here or there," Zaki said. "But what we want is to consolidate that ceasefire so that a durable truce can be achieved.

"The ceasefire was not negotiated because Israel did not want Hamas to get credit and did not want to accept their conditions."

He said that a summit of European and Arab leaders in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday was "to discuss how to help to avoid this tragedy being repeated."