U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos in Cairo, as diplomats seek approval for an Egyptian peace plan in the war-torn Gaza Strip.
U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-Moon began a grueling diplomatic shuttle mission to the Middle East by conferring with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to discuss how to implement a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in the beleaguered Gaza Strip.
In a press conference immediately following the meeting, Mr. Ban stressed that many lives have been lost and a cease-fire must be arranged "immediately," with the details being worked out, later.
"I have been urging in the strongest possible terms: all sides must stop fighting now. We do not have any time to lose. Then we can discuss and elaborate terms and conditions," he said."How to make the truce last, sustainable and durable, and which can be inspected by all the parties."
The U.N. secretary-general also urged the international community to support a Franco-Egyptian peace plan to bring about a staged ceasefire.
"[The] International community must encourage and fully rally behind this initiative, now," he said.
Mr. Ban said he wanted to visit Gaza, but had been warned that conditions were not safe "at this time." He vowed that he would, however, be talking to U.N. officials in Gaza to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Mr. Ban also said the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire was a "binding" resolution and urged Israel to abide by it.
"All the member states of the United Nations have obligations to abide by the Security Council resolution," said Mr. Ban. "Security Council resolutions are binding in its nature and I urge when I meet with Israeli leaders, as I have been doing until now, to abide by this by immediately halting military operations, ensuring a ceasefire, and engaging humanitarian assistance."
Hamas leaders say they object to certain provisions of the Egyptian peace plan, stressing that they want a unilateral Israeli ceasefire and withdrawal from Gaza, and the immediate reopening of border passages.
Israel insists foreign monitors be stationed at Egypt's Rafah border crossing and that a stop be put to weapons smuggling through tunnels under the border.