Middle East News
Solana in Gaza: I came to show solidarity
Feb 27, 2009, 10:16 GMT
Gaza City - European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in Gaza on Friday that he came to the Strip to show solidarity with its people.
Speaking to reporters at the American School, destroyed in the 22- day-long Israeli military assault on the Gaza Strip last month, Solana said 'I came to express solidarity with the people of Gaza.'
The Palestinian news agency Wafa said the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere also visited the Gaza Strip on Friday. It said both European officials expressed shock at the magnitude of destruction caused by the Israeli air, land and sea assault.
Solana said the EU was ready to send its monitors to Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt as called for by the 2005 Access and Movement Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority once the Palestinians agree among themselves on who will run the crossing.
Solana's visit to Gaza comes a few days before an international donor conference for Gaza set for March 2 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
The Palestinian Authority said it needs 2.8 billion dollars to rebuild what Israel has destroyed.
Solana said the EU was going to provide funds for Gaza's reconstruction. 'We will be helping (the people of Gaza) in the reconstruction process.'
The European official will later travel to Ramallah to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US special Mideast envoy George Mitchell, who will also meet Abbas Friday night.
Solana had previously visited Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Israel on his week-long Mideast diplomacy tour.