Norwegian foreign minister in Cairo for Gaza talks

Hend Kortam
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Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is to receive his Norwegian counterpart, Børge Brende, Tuesday to discuss Gaza and Egypt’s role in maintaining the truce which ended the recent conflict.

State-run agency MENA reported that Shoukry and Brende will discuss the need to work towards the environment needed to resume final status negotiations for a lasting solution to the Palestinian issue.

The two sides are also set to discuss the conference for Gaza’s reconstruction, to be held on 12 October, which the two countries will co-host in Cairo. Brende, who arrives in Egypt after visiting Gaza, announced the date of the conference on Monday from inside the Gaza Strip.

After his Gaza stop, Brende posted on Twitter: “Massive destruction underscores need for reconstruction and a permanent political solution”.

He is the first international leader to visit the strip after the war, the Norwegian national news agency NTB reported.

Brende’s stop in Egypt comes after he held talks with parties at opposite ends of the Palestinian conflict.

He held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday morning, and was received by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his residence in Jordan on Monday evening.

Brende had announced on 18 August, Egypt and Norway’s intentions to co-host the conference Gaza’s reconstruction, and said Abbas will be the recipient of the aid. He added that it is “his [Abbas’s] unity government of technocrats who should be responsible for the reconstruction”.

The densely populated Gaza Strip is still suffering the repercussions of the damage caused by approximately 50 days of Israeli military operations. Abbas had said earlier this week that the conflict left 18,000 homes completely destroyed and 41,000 partially destroyed.

Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Pierre Krähenbühl said Sunday, there is a “crying need for financial support” in Gaza. He added that $47m is needed in the next four weeks to help make conditions in Gaza “just about bearable” pending full reconstruction.

The conflict which started on 7 July and ended with an Egyptian brokered ceasefire on 26 August, left 2,149 dead, including 942 women and children. It also left over 11,000 injured, including 5,800 women and children, Abbas added.

The Palestinian leader said that “massacres” left 91 families annihilated.

Israel had launched the military operation titled “Protective Edge” with the aim of stopping “Hamas rocket fire into Israel”. It drastically escalated on 17 July when Israel launched a ground operation.

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