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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:08, November 15, 2005
EU ready to play role in Rafah crossing: Solana
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EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Monday that the European Union (EU) is ready to play its role at Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border.

Solana made the statements to reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah following a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on the Rafah crossing issue.

Solana said he hoped that the Palestinians will bridge gaps with Israel soon on the issue.

"We hope that the disagreement on Rafah crossing will be resolved in the coming days," Solana said, adding that the European Union is ready to play its role as a third party in supervising the crossing.

"The European role will not replace the Palestinian role," he added.

Rafah crossing is the only exit for Palestinians living in Gaza to travel abroad. The crossing has been shut down since Israel withdrew from Gaza in September.

Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to an Egypt-proposed plan to reopen the crossing under the EU supervision.

However, Israel and the Palestinians are at odds over the role of the EU inspectors and whether to install monitors at the crossing.

Israel wants the EU to arrest any Palestinian suspected of smuggling arms through the crossing, while the EU wants its role to be confined to only monitoring and reporting.

Solana started a visit to the Middle East on Nov. 11 aimed at underscoring the EU's political engagement in the region.

Solana also held a meeting with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the two discussed ways to solve the disagreements between Israel and the Palestinians on Rafah crossing.

Rice said earlier Monday that the two sides were very close to reaching an agreement on the crossing.

Meanwhile, Palestinian sources said the crossing will be opened for two days from Tuesday to Thursday.

Source: Xinhua

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