ANKARA (Reuters) -A newly formed group of senior officials from several Muslim countries will visit the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members and others to press for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, a Turkish foreign ministry source said on Tuesday.
The group was formed earlier this month at a summit of the Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Riyadh. It includes foreign ministers and representatives from Turkey, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the Palestinian Authority, as well as the OIC secretary general.
The source said the group had started talking with the permanent U.N. Security Council members - the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France - with a visit to Beijing on Monday, and would also go to other countries.
"The primary goal of the contact group is for a ceasefire to be announced as soon as possible and for humanitarian aid to be sent to Gaza," the source said.
"As an end goal, (the group) aims to contribute to the two-state solution within the framework of internationally accepted parameters, to Palestinians living in their own country safely, with stability and prosperity," the person said.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who is based outside Gaza, told Reuters on Tuesday the Palestinian militant group was nearing a truce deal with Israel, even as the deadly Israeli assault on Gaza continued and rockets were being fired into Israel.
Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the deadliest in Israel's 75-year history, prompted an Israeli aerial blitz and invasion of Gaza. The campaign has killed at least 13,000 Palestinians, many of them children and women, and led to calls for a ceasefire or humanitarian truce.
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan did not participate in the Beijing leg of the tour and will also miss the group's trip to Moscow on Tuesday as President Tayyip Erdogan is on a visit to Algeria, the Turkish foreign ministry source said.
Fidan said on Monday that he would join the next legs of the tour. He told Al Jazeera at the weekend that Muslim countries had, for now, decided to use "all diplomatic and humanitarian means" available to end the fighting in Gaza. He said Israeli attacks on the enclave must be stopped at the U.N. and other platforms with the efforts of like-minded countries.
The group will meet British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron during visits to Britain and France on Wednesday, the source said.
Separately, a group of 87 Turks, Turkish Cypriots and their relatives arrived in Turkey on Tuesday, after being evacuated from Gaza to Egypt, Turkish media reported. The foreign ministry source said another 100 people were evacuated from Gaza to Egypt on Tuesday evening, and will be flown to Istanbul from Cairo on Wednesday.
On Monday, nearly 200 evacuees from Gaza, including patients in need of medical care and their companions, arrived in Turkey.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; additional reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Huseyin Hayatsever; editing by Bernadette Baum, Mark Heinrich and Leslie Adler)