August 6, 2014 / 7:02 PM / 6 years ago

U.S. envoy headed to Cairo to aid in Gaza talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. envoy Frank Lowenstein was due in Cairo on Wednesday to try to help Egyptian-mediated talks between Israel and the Palestinians find a lasting end to their conflict over the Gaza Strip, the U.S. State Department said.

Lowenstein is the acting U.S. special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

“We, along with our partners, are working to find a way forward that brings an end to the violence and addresses the underlying causes of this crisis,” State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said in announcing the trip.

Egypt’s intelligence chief met a Palestinian delegation in Cairo on Wednesday, a day after he spoke to Israeli representatives, Egypt’s state news agency MENA said.

Israeli and Palestinian officials were not expected to hold direct talks for now as they seek to turn a 72-hour Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that began on Tuesday into a more durable conclusion to a roughly month-long conflict.

Gaza officials say the war has killed 1,867 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed since fighting began on July 8, after a surge in Palestinian rocket launches.

The United States does not have direct contacts with Hamas, which it brands a terrorist group. Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, a Mediterranean coastal enclave bordering Israel and Egypt that is home to about 1.8 million Palestinians.

Instead, it works through Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party runs the West Bank. The Palestinian team in Cairo is led by an official from Fatah and includes envoys from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Howard Goller

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