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Japan PM calls for restraint in Gaza conflict

world Updated: Jan 04, 2009 20:05 IST

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Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso called today on both Israel and Hamas to exercise restraint and warned that Israel's ground offensive into the Gaza Strip would only worsen the situation.

"I have asked both of them to show self-restraint," Aso told a news conference.

"It was difficult for them to sort things out to begin with. I'm very worried that the dispatch of ground troops will make the situation much worse," he said.

Israeli troops crossed yesterday into the Gaza Strip after an eight-day bombing blitz that has killed hundreds of people.
Israel launched the offensive to stop rocket attacks into its territory by Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls the impoverished Gaza Strip.

Japan on Saturday pledged USD 10 million in humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. Aso said Sunday he has spoken to Israel to ensure the aid gets through.

The world's second largest economy, Japan has sought a greater role in the Middle East peace process.