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Shoukry says Egypt hopeful of Gaza ceasefire deal before Ramadan

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Egypt's foreign minister said on Friday Cairo was hopeful that talks initiated by Qatar could agree on a ceasefire in Gaza before the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry © ADF

Egypt's foreign minister said on Friday Cairo was hopeful that talks initiated by Qatar could agree on a ceasefire in Gaza before the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Gaza truce talks have been taking place in Paris since last week in what appears to be the most serious push for weeks to halt the fighting in the Palestinian enclave between Israeli forces and Hamas militants and to secure the release of Israeli and foreign hostages.

"I can say that we have reached a point of understanding, we will still exert every effort with our brothers in Qatar and the U.S. and others close to the negotiations. We are hopeful that we can reach a cessation of hostilities and exchange of hostages," Minister Sameh Shoukry said at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey.

"Everyone recognizes that we have a time limit to be successful before the start of Ramadan," he said.

A proposed deal from the start of Ramadan on March 10 and 11 includes a 40-day pause in all military operations and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages at a ratio of 10 to one, a senior source close to the talks told Reuters on Tuesday.

"We will continue to strive in collaboration with the United Nations, with our partners to relieve the suffering of the Gazan people and to increase the level (of aid). Practically, this cannot happen without the cessation of hostilities," Shoukry said.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, speaking at the same panel with Shoukry, said Israel would not announce a ceasefire unless international pressure is imposed on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

"If we are not able to reach a ceasefire in the next two or three weeks, is clear we will see another round of attacks on Rafah and the continuation of a genocide," he said.

By Tuvan Gumrukcu

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