Obama backs Egypt's efforts to extend Israel-Hamas truce

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama expressed support on Wednesday for Egyptian efforts in Cairo to broker a longer-term Gaza ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians and said it was important to make sure that the current temporary 72-hour truce holds.

Speaking after an Africa summit in Washington, Obama called for developing a "formula" that assures Israel that Gaza will no longer be used for launching cross-border Hamas rocket attacks while also helping to ease hardships of Gaza's population, which suffered heavy civilian casualties during the latest conflict.

"We will continue to be trying to work as diligently as we can to move the process forward," Obama told a news conference. He also called for a negotiating role for the mainstream Palestinian Authority leadership, which governs in the West Bank while Islamist Hamas controls the Gaza Strip.

(Reporting By Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Sandra Maler)