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Egypt, France foreign ministers discuss Gaza

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, right, and his French counterpart Stephane Sejourne speak during a press conference just out side Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024   -  
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Amr Nabil/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

Gaza attack

Egypt's top diplomat received his French counterpart Stephane Sejourne on Sunday in the New Administrative Capital.

In a news conference after the meeting, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry warned of a wider conflict in the region if a ceasefire was not reached in Gaza.

"The war in Gaza, the threats we are seeing towards the navigation in the Red Sea, the military operations that took place in Syria and Iraq as well as the military situation on the Israeli-Lebanese borders, all warns from the escalation of the situation and slipping towards a wider conflict," Shoukry said.

In his first official visit to the region, Sejourne said he rejects the forced displacement of Palestinians towards Egypt.

"You are worried about the forced displacement of people into your territory, we completely understand your concerns and the position of France is constant, we condemn and we refuse all actions that are a threat in this context."

Tensions have been rising in the region since October 7.

The European Union on Saturday expressed deep concern over reports that the Israeli military intends to take its battle against Hamas to the town of Rafah at Gaza’s border with Egypt where more than a million people have escaped the fighting.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that around 1 million Palestinians “have been displaced progressively against the Egyptian border. They claimed they were safe zones, but in fact what we see is that the bombing affecting the civilian population continues and it is creating a very dire situation.”

Such an offensive could push the refugees into Egypt, undermining Israel’s peace agreement with the country and angering the United States.

It might also torpedo slow-moving peace talks with Hamas and complicate efforts to release scores of Israelis abducted when the militant group rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7.

The prospect of a ground war in Rafah has raised fears about where the population would go to find safety.

The United Nations said the town is becoming a “ pressure cooker of despair.”

After visiting Cairo on Sunday, Sejourne will continue his trip in the Middle East, with stops which include Jordan, Beirut and Israel.