January 5, 2009 / 7:07 PM / 11 years ago

France's Sarkozy calls for Gaza ceasefire

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RAMALLAH, West Bank, Jan 5 (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy, on a peacemaking mission to the Middle East, called on Monday for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip "as soon as possible".

Addressing a news conference in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Sarkozy said the European Union was working to support efforts to end the bloodshed.

He said he would tell Israeli leaders later in the day that the violence must stop. He also condemned Hamas for its attacks on Israel.

"We in Europe want a ceasefire as quickly as possible, and that everyone understands that time is running against peace," Sarkozy said. "The guns must fall silent, there must be a humanitarian truce."

"Everyone must understand that what is at stake here is not just an issue of Israel and Palestinians, it is a global issue and it is the whole world which will help you find a solution."

Abbas called for an "immediate and unconditional cessation" to Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip.

"After that, we can discuss all other issues, including reopening the border crossings and reasserting the truce," he said. (Reporting by Alastair Macdonald in Jerusalem and Wafa Amr in Ramallah; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Richard Williams)

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