Egypt says US's Clinton to attend Gaza reconstruction summit

US official did not have estimates of what the United States might contribute toward rebuilding Gaza.

Egypt says US's Clinton to attend Gaza reconstruction summit

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has agreed to attend an international donors conference in Cairo next month to help rebuild the Gaza Strip after Israel's December invasion, Egypt's foreign minister said on Thursday.

Speaking after meeting Clinton, Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the top U.S. diplomat would attend the March 2 meeting, which is being held in coordination with the Palestinian Authority.

"We expect lots of commitments from everybody, lots of commitments for reconstruction," Aboul Gheit told reporters outside the State Department.

A total of 53 installations used by the United Nations Relief and Works agency were damaged or destroyed during Israel's Gaza assault including 37 schools - six of which were being used as emergency shelters - six health centres, and two warehouses, damage costs nearly $2 billion.

Israel launched on Dec. 27 a massive offensive in Gaza, killing more than 1300 Palestinians, a third of them children, and wounded at least 5300.

Saudi Arabia has said it would donate $1 billion but the United States has not yet indicated what it will contribute. There are also U.S. concerns that funds not be channeled through Hamas, which Washington brands a terrorist group.

A senior State Department official confirmed Clinton would be in Cairo but said it had not yet been formally announced and details were still being made.

"They agreed on the shared commitment to bring about a comprehensive peace and the need to have a successful Cairo conference," he said of Clinton's meeting with Aboul Gheit.

He did not have estimates of what the United States might contribute toward rebuilding Gaza.

"(The United States) hopes that conditions on the ground will allow the United States and other members of the international community to provide substantial levels of assistance to the people of Gaza," the State Department said on Wednesday in a statement.

Aboul Gheit said he had urged Clinton and the Obama administration to show a strong commitment to Palestinian-Israeli peace and told her 2009 was a "crucial year".

Aboul Gheit said he expected a more even-handed approach, particularly in urging an end to Israeli settlement activity.

"They say they understand the problem of settlement activities and that it has to come to an end. All these are very encouraging signs," he said.


Reuters

Last Mod: 13 Şubat 2009, 16:43
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