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US welcomes Israel's announcement of unilateral ceasefire

world Updated: Jan 19, 2009 01:21 IST

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The US has welcomed Israel's decision to declare unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and highlighted the need for "durable and fully respected" truce in the troubled Middle East region.

"The United States welcomes the cessation of hostilities in Gaza announced by Israel and expects that all parties will cease attacks and hostile actions immediately," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement.

Rice, however, maintained that the goal remained a "durable and fully respected" ceasefire that would lead to stabilisation and normalisation in Gaza, which is ruled by Palestinian militant faction Hamas.

The United States "commends" Egypt to bring Hamas on board for peace in the region and "remains deeply concerned by the suffering of innocent Palestinians," she said.

"We welcome calls for immediate coordinated international action to increase assistance flows and will contribute to such efforts," she said.