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EU foreign ministers to meet today on Gaza crisis

world Updated: Dec 30, 2008 09:04 IST

AFP
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Foreign ministers of the European Union will hold an urgent meeting on Tuesday in Paris on the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip, the French foreign ministry announced.

"The ministers will look into how the European Union can help ease the current crisis, along with the efforts of the international community, especially the secretary general of the United Nations," the ministry's statement said.

The meeting is set to take place at 2300 IST today and will be chaired by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. Javier Solana, the EU's high representative for foreign policy and members of the European Commission are also expected to attend.

It is likely to be the major ministerial meeting before France passes on the rotating six-month EU presidency to the Czech Republic on Thursday.

Romain Nadal, a spokesman for the French foreign ministry, said yesterday that France and other EU countries were ready to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza, although reestablishing a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas remained a top priority.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy held conversations earlier in the day with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak to look for solutions to end the violence in Gaza, a statement from the French EU presidency said.

Diplomats told AFP that EU members are considering a number of options to resolve the crisis, including renewing its observation mission in Rafah, a town that lies on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

The mission, if accepted by both sides, could potentially allow for the easing of restrictions on checkpoints across the Palestinian territories.