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UK foreign minister pushes for ‘sustainable’ Gaza truce at Egypt talks

CAIRO: Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron has called for a “sustainable ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas to allow urgently needed aid into Gaza.

“I want this conflict to end as soon as possible,” Cameron told a news conference in Cairo on Thursday, the second day of a visit to the region.

The foreign secretary was speaking alongside his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

The two ministers also discussed the recent spate of attacks by Yemen’s Houthi militia against shipping in the Red Sea, a vital trade route.

Shoukry said that countries bordering the Red Sea had a permanent responsibility to secure the waterway, and that Egypt continues to cooperate with many of its partners to provide freedom of navigation in the area.

Several countries, including the UK, are participating in a US-led naval task force to protect shipping in the region.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said that talks between the two ministers will focus on ceasefire efforts, aid access to the Gaza Strip, a halt to Israeli attacks and forced displacement, and the two-state solution.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi also welcomed Cameron.

Tariq Ahmad, minister of state for the Middle East and North Africa affairs at the UK Foreign Office, and Gareth Bayley, UK ambassador to Egypt, were also present.

Presidential spokesperson Ahmed Fahmy said that El-Sisi and Cameron warned against the forced displacement of Palestinians, and allowing the conflict to spread to other areas.

During Thursday’s joint press conference, Shoukry and Cameron said that aid must be allowed into Gaza to end the humanitarian crisis facing the enclave.

“The conditions in the Gaza Strip are unacceptable, and are not being dealt with under international law,” Shoukry said.

Egypt’s foreign minister said that discussions also dealt with a draft resolution presented by Arab and Islamic groups to the UN Security Council regarding humanitarian aid.

Referring a question about alleged “double standards” by Western countries in dealing with the Palestinian issue, Cameron said that the UK was contributing to a UN resolution that will result in aid being sent to Gaza.

“This is what Britain has been saying to the Israeli government from day one,” said Cameron.

“We are proud and praise what the Egyptians have done in this regard, but I do not accept the idea of double standards, especially regarding Ukraine or Gaza.

“What happened in Ukraine was Russia invading a country, so the world has to condemn what Russia did and support Ukraine until it triumphs in this conflict.”

He added: “But what we see in Gaza is also a tragedy, and Israel must abide by international laws and reduce the number of victims.”

He said: “We currently want to focus on sending aid to Gaza and releasing all hostages, especially the British hostages.”

Cameron confirmed that the UK supports the two-state solution.

“We emphasize that Israel does not have to occupy Gaza or displace citizens from their places,” he said.

Source: Arab News

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