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US welcomes Israel's unilateral ceasefire in Gaza: Rice

WASHINGTON: The United States on Saturday welcomed Israel's unilateral ceasefire in its 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip that sought to deter the Islamist movement Hamas, the US State Department said.

"The United States welcomes the cessation of hostilities in Gaza announced by Israel and expects that all parties will cease attacks and hostile actions immediately," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement.

She reiterated the US position that "the goal remains a durable and fully respected ceasefire that will lead to stabilization and normalization in Gaza."

"The United States commends Egypt for its efforts and remains deeply concerned by the suffering of innocent Palestinians," Rice added. Egypt, a longtime broker of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, was to host an international summit Sunday to seek a permanent truce in Gaza.

Rice added that the US welcomes "calls for immediate coordinated international action to increase assistance flows and will contribute to such efforts."

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