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Abbas Calls on Hamas to Accept Ceasefire as Peace Efforts Stall

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Hamas to accept the Egyptian-French ceasefire plan after meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo Saturday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

President Abbas called for international intervention to end the violence in Gaza

A delegation from Hamas was expected later Saturday to continue discussion with Egyptian officials.

The delegation was to include Ayman Taha, Gamal Abu Hashem and Saleh al-Bardwell, all coming from Gaza.

Joining consultations between Egypt and Hamas is a Turkish delegation led by Ahmet Davutoglu, chief foreign policy advisor for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The delegation is coming to Egypt on a request from Mubarak, Turkish sources said.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was also having talks in Cairo.

Abbas expressed his strong backing for the Egyptian-French initiative of last week calling for a cessation of violence, allowing aid to reach civilians, and for the Israelis and Palestinians to take steps to make sure another conflict does not erupt, including the possibility of international peacekeeping forces.

Abbas calls for international presence in Gaza

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Steinmeier is on a whirlwind diplomatic tour of the region

The Palestinian leader backed the plan, saying at a press conference after his talks with Mubarak, "We need an international presence to protect the people in the Gaza Strip and not just international observers on the border with Egypt."

Abbas also called on Hamas to accept the Egyptian initiative as "there is no time for hesitation."

Abbas said the initiative is the main mechanism by which Thursday's UN Security Council resolution for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip could be put into action.

He noted that so far the Security Council resolution unfortunately had not yet had any immediate impact.

"But the Egyptian initiative is the mechanism for the resolution to materialize and to be activated so that Israeli aggression would be halted," Abbas said, describing Cairo's call as a "life-saving" effort which came at "the right time."

Steinmeier focuses on cooperation to end violence

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier meanwhile met with Mubarak as Germany joined in the ceasefire efforts.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, meets with Palestinian autority President Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas agreed with the conditions of Mubarak's initiative

Steinmeier told reporters that while the UN Security Council resolution passed Thursday night was a step in the right direction, full international cooperation was required to achieve a ceasefire on the ground.

"The ongoing status and the humanitarian situation in Gaza demand that we and all our European and international partners work together to create the conditions necessary for an immediate, effective and permanent halt of attacks," Steinmeier said after meeting Mubarak.

Steinmeier also met with Abbas, and was due to meet Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa before going on to Israel to meet with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

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