EU chief to visit Egypt, Jordan on Saturday

AFP , Thursday 16 Nov 2023

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will visit Egypt and Jordan, her spokesman said Wednesday, amid the Israeli aggression on Gaza that has raged for more than five weeks.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen looks on during an international humanitarian conference for civilians in Gaza, at the Elysee Presidential Palace, in Paris, on November 9, 2023. AFP


The EU chief will on Saturday meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before travelling to Sinai, near the border with Israel, for the arrival of an EU humanitarian convoy, Eric Mamer said.

She will then meet King Abdullah II in Jordan, he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Von der Leyen visited Israel on October 13 -- a week after Hamas launched its operation on October 7.

In Gaza, more than 11,500 people, also mostly civilians, have been killed in the ensuing aerial bombardment and ground offensive, health officials in the Gaza have said.

In a speech to EU diplomats at the beginning of November, von der Leyen said the 27-member bloc -- the biggest donor to the Palestinian territories -- would increase its humanitarian aid for Gaza by 25 million euros ($27 million).

A staunch supporter of Israel, von der Leyen said it was essential the country "strives to avoid civilian casualties" in its operation in Gaza.

"Hamas is clearly using innocent Palestinians and hostages as human shields -- it is horrific and it is pure evil," she said.

Von der Leyen told diplomats that a prerequisite once the fighting stops is that "Gaza can be no safe haven for terrorists" and Hamas will no longer be in charge of the territory.

She added that even as conflict rages, there needs to be a "perspective" for a two-state solution.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will also be in the Middle East from Thursday for humanitarian and political talks in Israel, Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan.

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