Egypt hosts Gaza summit
European and Middle Eastern leaders held a summit in Egypt yesterday aimed at shoring up a fragile truce in the three-week war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.
It convened as Palestinian armed groups offered a one-week truce in response to the unilateral ceasefire declared by Israel.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who held meetings early Sunday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, was in attendance at the summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, as was UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Turkey -- which have offered to satisfy Israel's main war demand of securing Gaza's border with Egypt in order to stop Hamas rearming -- were also represented at the meeting.
Egypt held talks with a Hamas delegation in Cairo earlier in the day aimed at consolidating the ceasefire.
"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.
The Islamists' exiled number two Mussa Abu Marzuq, later offered a one-week truce to allow Israel to withdraw its troops and open its border crossings with Gaza to basic goods.
"The Israeli enemy has failed in its bid to impose conditions. We in the Palestinian resistance movements announce a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and demand that enemy forces withdraw in a week and open all the border crossings to permit the entry of humanitarian aid and basic goods," Abu Marzuq told Syrian state television.
"We are ready to accept all efforts, particularly those of the Egyptians, Turks, Syrians and Qataris, to reach an agreement that meets our known demands, namely the lifting once and for all of the blockade and the opening of all the crossing points, including the Rafah crossing" between Gaza and Egypt, he said.
Egypt announced a truce plan for Gaza on January 6 and has since made intensive efforts to secure a reciprocal ceasefire.
Israel's announcement late on Saturday that it was halting its offensive with or without an understanding with Hamas drew a testy response from Egyptian officials.