Hamas official in Cairo for Gaza truce talks

Palestinian president due to arrive in Egyptian capital for talks about a possible ceasefire

CAIRO – A Hamas official is to hold talks in Cairo about Egyptian-led efforts to end a nine-day conflict between the Gaza-based movement and Israel, the Palestinians said.

The movement has already rejected a proposal that Egypt put forward this week aimed at bringing an end to the violence, complaining that it had been excluded from the discussions. “A meeting will be held this afternoon between an official from Hamas and a representative of the Egyptian leadership,” said Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior member of Palestine’s Fatah movement.

Speaking at a meeting of the Arab League, Ahmad voiced hope that those at the gathering would crystalize a definite formula for an Egyptian initiative or clarify Cairo's plan, which proposed an end to hostilities from Tuesday. Israel initially accepted the Egyptian initiative, but later intensified its punishing air operation aimed at stamping out rocket fire from Gaza militants following Hamas's rejection.

Ahmad's remarks came as Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair held talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri, on his second visit to Cairo within a week to discuss the Gaza conflict. Later on Wednesday, President Mahmud Abbas is also due to arrive in the Egyptian capital for talks about a possible ceasefire.

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