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Spain Urging EU Opposition to Gaza Blockade

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero says his country will try to persuade the European Union to take a stronger stance against Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Zapatero said Saturday that Spain will try to forge a strong, united position on the situation in Gaza.

He spoke following a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

On Friday, the foreign ministers of Spain, France and Italy proposed using EU monitoring teams in Cyprus to inspect Gaza-bound ships for weapons.

Israel put the blockade in place in 2007 to prevent Palestinian militants from obtaining weapons after Hamas took control of Gaza.

EU foreign ministers plan to discuss the Gaza situation at a meeting Monday.

The ministers have blamed the 3-year blockade for creating the conditions that led to a deadly raid by Israeli forces on an aid flotilla last month.

Israel drew international criticism after its soldiers killed nine pro-Palestinian activists who were part of a flotilla that was trying to break the blockade and deliver aid directly to Gaza.

Israel has defended its actions in the raid, saying its troops acted in self defense.

On Friday, Palestinian President Abbas met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington.

the U.S. State Department said Mr. Abbas proposed to Clinton ways to expand access for people and goods to flow into the Palestinian territory.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.