Egypt agrees to allow up to 20 aid trucks into Gaza, Biden says

Egypt agrees to allow up to 20 aid trucks into Gaza, Biden says
Credit: Belga

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, with whom he had just spoken over the phone, had agreed to let up to 20 trucks cross the border to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.

However, Biden told journalists on board his plane, during a stopover in Germany on his way back to the United States after a visit to Israel, that the aid was unlikely to arrive before Friday due to works to be done on the road to the border crossing.

President Biden said he spoke for about half an hour with his Egyptian counterpart who, he added, had been “totally cooperative” and “deserved a lot of recognition” for his action.

Gaza needs at least 100 truckloads of humanitarian aid per day - UN

According to Biden, the Egyptian president had agreed to open the Rafah border crossing to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. This is the only crossing point to the Gaza Strip not controlled by Israel. It is currently closed.

The US president also commented that the up to 20 trucks were potentially just the beginning. He said the deployment of a second convoy would depend on how the distribution of the first went.

On Wednesday, UN Humanitarian Chief Martin Griffiths said on CNN Europe that once relief trucks were able to cross the border safely, their number would have to be scaled up to at least 100  per day, as was previously the case with the UN aid programme for Gaza.

Washington would also like Cairo to agree to open its border in the other direction to let out Palestinian civilians, notably those carrying US passports. “We’re going to let people out,” he said, without giving further details.

Biden, al-Sissi agree on need to prevent escalation - White House

The White House said the two leaders agreed to work closely together to encourage an urgent and robust international response to a UN humanitarian appeal on behalf of people affected by the conflict.

They also agreed on the need to preserve stability in the Middle East, prevent escalation of the conflict, and create the conditions for a lasting and permanent peace in the region, according to a transcript of the phone call.

President Biden was originally scheduled to meet President al-Sissi in person in Jordan, along with King Abdullah II and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, but that meeting was cancelled after the deadly strike on a Gaza hospital, for which Israeli and Palestinian forces blame each other.

The American president, who visited Israel on Wednesday to affirm his support for the country, had promised to call the Egyptian and Palestinian leaders on the plane home.

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