Egypt hopes for Gaza truce deal 'in few days'

CAIRO, Feb 8, 2009 (AFP) - Egypt is hopeful that a Gaza truce accord between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas can be reached in the next few days, foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told AFP on Sunday.

"There are positive signs that in the next few days we will reach an understanding on a truce and a partial reopening of crossing points (into Gaza)," Zaki said.

Egypt has been mediating indirect talks for a lasting truce since the end of the 22-day Gaza war, which killed at least 1,330 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

The fighting ended when both Israel and the Gaza Strip's Islamist rulers called separate ceasefires on January 18.

However, the fragile calm has been tested by Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel and retaliatory air strikes.

On Saturday, a spokesman for Hamas said it expected an agreement with Israel on the reopening of border crossings into the Gaza Strip "within the next few days."

A Hamas delegation left Cairo on Saturday for talks on the ceasefire and Zaki said they would return on Monday.

Israel, which controls all border crossings except Rafah, which is managed by Egypt, has kept the densely populated strip closed to all but essential supplies since June 2007 when Hamas violently seized power, ousting forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Source: AFP

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