EU foreign ministers to meet on Gaza crisis
With Israel's relentless bombing on Gaza Strip, a serious crisis has erupted in the middle east and now a rift has emerged between the European Union and the United States over whether Israel should cease its offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas.
Concerned with mounting death toll Muslim nations condemned Israel over the deadly air attacks on the Gaza Strip. European foreign minister are meeting on tuesday on the crisis which sparked anti-Israeli protests around Europe.
"The ministers will look into how the European Union can help ease the current crisis, along with the efforts of the international community, especially the secretary general of the United Nations," the ministry's statement said.
The meeting was set to take place at 1730 GMT on Tuesday and be chaired by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
Javier Solana, the EU's high representative for foreign policy and members of the European Commission were also expected to attend.
It was likely to be the last major ministerial meeting before France passes on the rotating six-month EU presidency to the Czech Republic on Thursday.
Romain Nadal, a spokesman for the French foreign ministry, said Monday that France and other EU countries were ready to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza, although reestablishing a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas remained a top priority.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy held conversations Monday with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak to look for solutions to end the violence in Gaza, a statement from the French EU presidency said.
British Government also stepped up its diplomatic efforts. Gordon Brown urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to let urgent medical aid into Gaza.
Brown spoke by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas, as Israeli air attacks rocked the Palestinian enclave for a third straight day.
"We are appalled by the continuing violence in Gaza and reiterate our call to Israel and Hamas for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further loss of innocent life," said a spokesman for the British prime minister.