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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak made his ceasefire call at a news conference in Egypt with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy.

Egypt has been at the forefront of peacemaking efforts since the offensive began 12 days ago. Mubarak has hosted talks involving representatives from both sides and the international community. Now he is proposing further dialog. “We invite the Palestinian and Israeli sides to participate in negotiations along with the EU and other concerned international parties,” he said. Israel came under strong pressure to accept a ceasefire at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council yesterday. The UN is to get more directly involved in attempts to end the fighting. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said: “I also intend to travel next week to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory and to regional capitals. But I do not believe we can wait until then to end the violence. We must achieve that now”. More than 600 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, while Israel has lost seven soldiers and three civilians. Despite growing pressure Israel says it will not agree to a ceasefire plan until all the details have been worked out.

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