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Rice cancels China trip amid Gaza crisis
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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has canceled the scheduled trip to China this week because of the crisis in the Gaza Strip, US State Department said on Sunday.

"Due to events in the Middle East, Secretary Rice will not be able to travel to Beijing, China as she had expected," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack in a statement issued on Sunday.

"Deputy Secretary Negroponte will travel to Beijing on January 7 to meet with Chinese officials and attend events in commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and the People's Republic of China," McCormack said.

McCormack gave no comment on whether Rice would travel to the Middle East for promoting a ceasefire between Israel and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which was blamed by Washington for responsible for crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Rice said on Friday she had no plans "at this point" to travel to the Middle East.

Israel's ground troops, backed by gunships and tanks, on Saturday night launched an invasion into the Gaza Strip. Reports here quoted Palestinian security sources as saying that the troops have gained control of the eastern section of the northern Gaza Strip throughout Sunday.

The strikes lasting eight days in the Gaza Strip have killed some 480 people, mostly Palestinian militants, and wounded 2,800 others. For the Israeli side, four people have been killed in the ongoing rocket attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip.

"We are working toward a ceasefire that would not allow a reestablishment of the status quo ante, where Hamas can continue to launch rockets out of Gaza and to condemn the people of Gaza to a life of misery," said McCormack on Saturday.

"It is obvious that that ceasefire should take place as soon as possible, but we need a ceasefire that is durable, sustainable, and not time limited," McCormack said.

(Xinhua News Agency January 5, 2009)

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