UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in the Middle East for a regional tour on Wednesday as intensive talks among parties concerned were being held in a bid to help reach a ceasefire in the embattled Palestinian territory of Gaza Strip.
During his stay in Egypt, Ban renewed his call for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, where more than 1,000 Palestinians have been reportedly killed in the past 19 days of Israeli offensive against the Palestinian enclave.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (R) meets visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Cairo, capital of Egypt, Jan. 14, 2009. [Zhang Ning/Xinhua]
Shortly after his arrival, Ban held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, reviewing the latest developments of the Gaza crisis and discussed an Egyptian initiative aiming at putting an end to the conflict between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups in Gaza.
"I repeat my call for an immediate and durable ceasefire (in Gaza)," Ban said at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit following talks with Mubarak.
Ban, who arrived in Egypt on Wednesday morning, came to the Middle East as part of the UN efforts to push for the implementation of a UN Security Council resolution on Gaza and help reach a ceasefire in the coastal strip as soon as possible.
On Thursday, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1860, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza "leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces."