UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Wednesday on a Middle East trip to help ease the tension in the Palestinian territory of Gaza Strip.
During his stay in Egypt, Ban is expected to have talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and senior officials of the Cairo-based Arab League (AL) on the latest developments of the Gaza Crisis.
On Tuesday, the UN Security Council voiced its support to the Middle East tour by the UN chief and the regional initiatives, proposed by Egypt and other Middle East countries, in their joint efforts to bring both Israel and Hamas into full implementation of a new Security Council resolution, which went unheeded by the two warring sides.
Ban is scheduled to visit Egypt, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Kuwait to strengthen the joint diplomatic efforts to strive for an early end to the fighting.
At his first press conference for this year on Monday, Ban said "My goal is to step up the pace of our joint diplomatic efforts and ensure that urgent humanitarian assistance reaches those in need."
On Thursday, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1860 calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza "leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces."
The Israeli offensive against Gaza, which entered its 19th day on Wednesday, has killed over 950 Palestinians in the coastal strip and wounded some 4,100 others.
(Xinhua News Agency January 14, 2009)