Bush calls for "meaningful ceasefire" in Middle East

Bush calls for "meaningful ceasefire" in Middle East Washington  - US President George W Bush on Friday called for a "meaningful ceasefire" to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East after a week of Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip and missile attacks by the militant Islamic group Hamas into Israel.

In his weekly radio address to be delivered Saturday, Bush blamed the situation on Hamas' violation of a ceasefire to which Israel was forced to respond and stressed that any newly brokered ceasefire must be upheld by both parties.

"The United States is leading diplomatic efforts to achieve a meaningful ceasefire that is fully respected. Another one-way ceasefire that leads to rocket attacks on Israel is not acceptable," Bush said. "And promises from Hamas will not suffice - there must be monitoring mechanisms in place to help ensure that smuggling of weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza comes to an end."

It was the first time Bush has personally weighed in publicly since the current wave of violence began, though he has spoken through a White House spokesman and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He urged all nations to work for peace in the region and a "return to the path of peace."

"The United States is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation facing the Palestinian people," Bush said, stressing US and international aid efforts but blaming Hamas for spending money on weapons instead of its people since taking control of the strip in 2007.

The US will work closely with allies in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, as well as Israel and the Palestinians to end the violence, Bush said. (dpa)

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