France, Egypt, Jordan hold talks seeking Mideast ceasefire

By: AFP      Published: 09:51 PM, 18 May, 2021
France, Egypt, Jordan hold talks seeking Mideast ceasefire

France's President Emmanuel Macron, his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan's King Abdullah II held talks Tuesday aimed at seeking a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Sisi is currently in Paris for summits on Africa while Abdullah joined by video conference, the Elysee Palace said. 

The French presidency said that the trilateral summit meeting aimed "above all to work for a rapid ceasefire and prevent the conflict from extending".

A statement from Sisi's office added after the meeting that the talks sought "to develop a common approach of the three countries to put an end to the violence" and contain "the dangerous escalation" in the Palestinian territories.

Egypt, which borders Gaza and is one of the few Arab countries with a long history of diplomatic relations with Israel, is seeking to fulfil its traditional role of mediator in the current conflict.

According to spokesman Bassam Radi, Sisi emphasised that "Egypt will continue its efforts to stop the escalation on both sides, through its contacts with all the international parties as well as with the Israeli and Palestinian sides".

Macron had on Monday underlined the importance of Egyptian mediation after talks in Paris with Sisi, a key ally and defence client of France despite activists' concerns over Cairo's rights record.

He said that the trilateral talks would be aimed at "how to make a concrete proposal along these lines".

According to the Jordanian Royal Court, Abdullah affirmed in the video call "the need to protect the Palestinians, stop all illegal Israeli attacks and actions in Jerusalem, and end the aggression on Gaza".

He also stressed that "the repeated Israeli violations and provocations that led to the escalation and exacerbated the situation must end".

The talks came after US President Joe Biden, who resisted joining other world leaders in calling for an immediate end to hostilities, told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he backed a ceasefire, but stopped short of demanding a truce.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex meanwhile urged Israel to "guarantee rapid and unhindered access of aid to Gaza" after it closed a crossing into Gaza shortly after opening passage to allow in humanitarian goods.