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UN chief hopes for end to fighting

The UN secretary-general said it is his "hope and belief" that his emergency mission to the Middle East will lead to an end to the fighting between Hamas and Israel.

Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council by videoconference from the West Bank city of Ramallah that he could not publicly reveal details "at this highly sensitive moment".

As he started to address the council a siren could be heard in the background.

The UN chief has also visited Qatar, Kuwait, Cairo and Jerusalem and said he will go on to Jordan and Saudi Arabia on what he called a mission "of solidarity and peace" to quickly end an escalating two-week war between Israelis and Hamas militants who control the Gaza Strip.

In the last three days Mr Ban has met the head of the Arab League and Arab, Palestinian and Israeli leaders as well as US Secretary of State John Kerry and Norway's foreign minister. He also spoke to French President Francois Hollande.

"Suffice it to say, it is my hope and belief that these talks will lead to results and an end to the fighting in the very near future," Mr Ban said.

But he warned: "Of course there are many obstacles and complexities."

Mr Ban stressed that a ceasefire without addressing the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only delay the problem for yet another time.

"The cycle will continue - except the bitterness and hatred will become that much more entrenched each time it comes around," he said.

"Quite simply, if a people are left with despair and occupation, the problem won't disappear, it will only grow."

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