Arab League chief, ministers to visit Gaza on Tuesday: officials

CAIRO Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:41pm IST

Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby (R) walks near Peru's President Ollanta Humala upon his arrival at the inauguration ceremony of the Latin American and Arab heads of states summit in Lima, October 2, 2012. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby (R) walks near Peru's President Ollanta Humala upon his arrival at the inauguration ceremony of the Latin American and Arab heads of states summit in Lima, October 2, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mariana Bazo

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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 also said that Elaraby set the date of the visit in coordination with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the names of the traveling ministers would be announced later.

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 also condemned the Israeli offensive in Gaza that started last Wednesday and has killed 56 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, who is currently visiting Cairo, also called for a truce between the Palestinians and Israel at a business forum on Sunday. "We want a synchronized 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, additional reporting by Seltem Iyigun in Istanbul; Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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