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French, German FMs call for cease-fire

French, German FMs call for cease-fire

The French and German foreign ministers urged Wednesday an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement, France's Bernard Kouchner and Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier said such a measure would "provide space to address the humanitarian crisis" in Gaza. More than 900 Palestinians have been killed since the Dec. 27 start of the Israeli operation aimed at stopping the firing of rockets from the territory into Israel.
They also said a cease-fire could "create the basis for a durable ceasefire which will guarantee security and safety for the populations in Gaza and Israel."
Earlier in the day, Kouchner told the French paliament he hoped that international pressure for a Gaza cease-fire will be "effective in a few days."
He also said his government would be ready to talk to Hamas, if the Islamic militants renounce violence and recognize Israel.
How to deal with Hamas, which rules Gaza, is key for international governments trying to stop fighting there. France currently has only indirect contacts with Hamas, which the European Union lists as a terrorist group.
But Kouchner said France is now ready to talk officially to Hamas, if it renounces violence, recognizes Israel and accepts previous peace accords.
"We don't ignore the reality of Hamas, its electoral success or its weight in Palestinian opinion," he told members of parliament.
Wednesday's statement said both France and Germany are committed to stopping arms from illegally entering Gaza and ensuring that crossings into the territory remain open _ two main flashpoints in the current conflict.
"Important progress has been made over the past days in identifying workable solutions," the statement said.
The conflict in Gaza was also among the main topics of a working dinner Wednesday evening between the leaders of France and Britain.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who traveled to the Middle East following Israel's Dec. 27 incursion in Gaza to help broker a proposed peace deal, said that he was optimistic that "things are going to change for the better in a little bit."
Sarkozy was speaking to reporters outside his private residence ahead of Wednesday's dinner with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


Updated : 2021-06-19 05:43 GMT+08:00