BEIRUT

Middle East

Kerry arrives in Cairo to press for Gaza cease-fire

Palestinians pray over Hamas green flag-draped bodies of 17 members of the Abu Jamea immediate and extended family, killed by an Israeli strike at their house, during their funeral at the main mosque in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

CAIRO: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday began a diplomatic push to try to secure a ceasefire in the intensifying Israel-Hamas conflict. 

Speaking to reporters as Kerry flew to Cairo, senior U.S. officials stressed the challenge of ending two weeks of violence in which more than five hundred people, most of them Palestinians, have died.

"The objective here is to get the fastest possible cease-fire ... That doesn't mean that it's going to be fast and that certainly doesn't mean that it's going to be easy, but that's the goal," said one official on condition of anonymity.

"We would like it to be the cleanest possible ceasefire as well. If we could get both sides to agree on a ceasefire immediately that was relative free of conditions, we would take that in a second," the official added.

Kerry was scheduled to meet U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday night and to see a series of senior Egyptian officials on Tuesday. They will probably include President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri as well as the head of the Arab League, Nabil el-Araby, U.S. officials said.

 

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