UPDATE 2-REUTERS SUMMIT-Egypt PM says Gaza truce deal may be close

Reuters Middle East

CAIRO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Egypt's prime minister said on

Monday that an agreement brokered by Cairo to stop the fighting

between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza could be close.

"Negotiations are going on as we speak and I hope we will

reach something soon that will stop this violence and counter

violence," Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said in an interview in

Cairo for the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit.

Israel launched an air campaign on Wednesday with the

declared goal of deterring Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group

that runs the Gaza Strip, from launching rockets at its southern

communities.

Egypt is seeking to reinstate a ceasefire after an informal

one it brokered in October collapsed.

"I think we are close, but the nature of this kind of

negotiation (means) it is very difficult to predict," he said.

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi had said on Saturday that

there were "some indications" a ceasefire could be reached soon

but said there were no firm guarantees.

"President Mursi is determined to play his role as a key

player in the region and help mediate this," said Kandil, who

visited Gaza on Friday to show Egypt's solidarity with the

Palestinians.

Israel bombed dozens of suspected guerrilla sites in Gaza,

ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement, on Monday and Palestinian

rocket fire from the enclave eased off.

The prime minister said Egypt was in contact with both

Israeli and Palestinian officials, and with other regional and

international players, including Turkey and Qatar, as well as

the United States, Britain and Germany.

"There are exchanges of visits and talks with both sides and

there is also communications with various leaders from the

region," he said.

Separately on Monday, another Egyptian official, who

declined to be identified, said that Egypt was receiving

"encouraging signals" about a ceasefire and said both Israel and

Hamas were seeking guarantees.

"What we are trying to agree on is to achieve a ceasefire

and achieve some possible guarantees, and then later discuss

more guarantees," the official told Reuters.

Izzat Risheq, aide to Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal,

wrote on Facebook that Hamas would enter a truce only after

Israel "stops its aggression, ends its policy of targeted

assassinations and lifts the blockade of Gaza".

Listing Israel's terms, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon

wrote on Twitter: "If there is quiet in the south and no rockets

and missiles are fired at Israel's citizens, nor terrorist

attacks engineered from the Gaza Strip, we will not attack."

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