Catherine Ashton
Photo: EPA
Ahmet Davutoglu
Photo: AFP

Ashton: Gaza rocket attacks must stop

EU's foreign policy chief says solution that brings security to region must be found. Turkish FM to visit Gaza on Tuesday with Arab League delegation

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will pay a visit Tuesday to the Gaza Strip, the foreign ministry said.


Davutoglu's trip is part of an Arab League initiative, the Anatolia news agency said, referring to a planned visit Tuesday by a delegation from the bloc and its leader Nabil Alaraby in a show of support for Gaza. A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman confirmed the visit to AFP but gave no further details.


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Davutoglu, who has branded the Israeli military offensive in Gaza a "crime against humanity", agreed on the visit during a meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Cairo on Sunday, Anatolia said. Turkey has fallen out with its former regional ally Israel after Israeli commandos raided a Gaza-bound Turkish ship in May 2010, leaving nine people dead.


On Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan fiercely slammed Israel over Operation Pillar of Defense. Speaking at the Cairo University he said that Israel "was turning the region into a blood swamp." He further added, "Every drop of Palestinian blood is pouring from the veins of all Muslims and every tear dropping from their eyes is our tear too."


Prior to the speech, the Turkish prime minister met with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi whom he praised for recalling Egypt's ambassador from Tel Aviv.


Egypt's foreign minister will also head to Gaza on Tuesday alongside a delegation of Arab ministers to express solidarity with the Palestinian people, following Israeli air strikes on the Palestinian territory, a spokesman for the ministry said.


"Mohamed Amr, foreign minister, will head to Gaza accompanying an Arab ministerial delegation to express solidarity with the brave Palestinian people who are subjected to Israeli aggression for the sixth day in a row," Amr Roshdy, spokesman for the ministry, said on Monday.


Ashton: Rocket fire must stop

Meanwhile, the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed concern over the death

toll in the recent escalation in Gaza and said that the crisis can only be resolved through a long-term solution.


Speaking at the start of a meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers in Brussels on Monday, Ashton said rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel must stop.


"What we have to do is to find ... a solution that brings security to the region," Ashton said.


Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said the most important thing was to arrange an immediate ceasefire.


"Then, we must look at the wider and deeper issues," he said. "This is the second Gaza war in a few years. We can't wait for the third and fourth."


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also involved in efforts to bring about a ceasefire. He is scheduled to arrive in Egypt on Monday and on Tuesday he will land in Israel.


AFP, AP and Reuters contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 11.19.12, 13:14
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