UN chief Ban Ki-moon is expected to meet Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday in the first step of a diplomatic tour that will also take him to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank in the latest bid to negotiate a ceasefire in Gaza.
AFP - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo on Wednesday at the start of a regional tour aimed at ending Israel's devastating war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Ban was to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who, along with his senior intelligence officials, has been at the forefront of efforts to mediate a truce between the two sides.
Ban's trip comes amid fears of an escalation of the conflict, now in its 19th day and with almost 1,000 Palestinians killed, after a second rocket attack in less than a week from Lebanon hit northern Israel on Wednesday.
The UN Security Council on Tuesday gave Ban strong support for implementation of Security Council Resolution 1860 which called last week for an immediate ceasefire but was ignored both by the Jewish state and the Islamist Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip.
UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said that Ban's goal during his tour was "to step up the pace of joint diplomatic efforts regarding Gaza and southern Israel."
She said Ban renewed his call for an immediate ceasefire and for humanitarian aid to be delivered to the Gaza population without restrictions.
After Cairo, the UN chief is to fly to Jordan, Israel, the West Bank city of Ramallah, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Kuwait, where he was to attend an Arab League summit next Monday.
Date created : 2009-01-13