Arab League chief, ministers to visit Gaza on Tuesday

CAIRO Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:25pm GMT

CAIRO (Reuters) - The head of the Arab League and a group of Arab foreign ministers will visit Gaza on Tuesday to show solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli attack, officials said on Sunday.

Arab league ministers had called at an earlier meeting for a mission to go to Gaza. Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby told reporters in Cairo the visit would take place on Tuesday. A League source said Elaraby would lead the delegation.

The source said Elaraby set the date of the visit in coordination with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the names of the travelling ministers would be announced later.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will accompany them, the Turkish prime minister's office said on Sunday in a posting on Twitter.

In an urgent meeting in Cairo on Saturday, the Arab ministers gave their backing to Egyptian efforts to secure a truce between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

They condemned the Israeli offensive in Gaza that started on Wednesday and so far has killed 69 Palestinians and wounded hundreds, according to Palestinian officials. More than 500 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel, killing three civilians and wounding dozens.

Israel's declared goal in Gaza is to deter Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs the enclave, from launching rockets that have plagued its southern communities for years.

Turkish Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan, visiting Cairo, called for a truce between the Palestinians and Israel at a business forum on Sunday. "We want a synchronised ceasefire," Erdogan told a group of Egyptian and Turkish businessmen.

"I call upon Israel and Gaza. The ceasefire agreement should be established within 24 hours ... The embargoes should be abolished in a gradual way. And these talks should start within 90 days," he added.

(Reporting by Ayman Samir in Cairo, and Seltem Iyigun in Istanbul; Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Alison Williams)

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