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UN chief appeals for int'l unity to end Gaza crisis
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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called on the international community to "display the unity and commitment" required to bring the escalating crisis in the Gaza Strip to an end.

"Given the crucial juncture at which we have arrived in the search for a ceasefire, I appeal to all members of the international community to display the unity and commitment required to bring this escalating crisis to an end," Ban said in a statement.

"I believe the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, has a central role to play in bringing a speedy end to the conflict," he said.

Ban voiced regrets at the failure of the Security Council to reach a consensus on ending the Gaza crisis.

On late Saturday, the 15-member body failed to reach an agreement at a third round of emergency consultations held since December 27 to discuss the escalating violence in Gaza following the ground invasion of Israeli troops.

The secretary-general said he will be working actively with members of the council and other key players, in particular Arab leaders, to facilitate the emergence of a consensus.

"Meanwhile I remain extremely concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground," Ban said.

"We are in close contact with the Israeli authorities to press them to open not only the Kerem Shalom crossing, but also Karni and Nahd Oz, to allow in, particularly, wheat grain and fuel for the power plant, as well as other essential supplies."

(Xinhua News Agency January 5, 2009)

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