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Gaza statement a misunderstanding -Czech minister

PRAGUE, Jan 4 (Reuters) - The Czech foreign minister said on Sunday a previous comment by a Czech spokesman that Israel's land assault in the Gaza Strip was "defensive, not offensive" was a misunderstanding.

The comments by a European Union presidency spokesman on Saturday suggested disunity in the EU and sparked condemnation from the Palestinians. The Czech Republic took over the rotating EU presidency from France on Jan. 1.

"The statement from him yesterday was a misunderstanding," Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said in a live television debate.

He said the only valid EU presidency position was a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry late on Saturday which called for a ceasefire and facilitation of humanitarian aid.

Schwarzenberg will lead an EU ministerial delegation to the Middle East starting in Egypt on Sunday then visiting Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. (Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Andrew Dobbie)

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