EU can check ships heading to Gaza: France

The EU is willing to check cargo on board ships heading to the Gaza Strip.

Paris: The European Union is willing to check cargo on board ships heading to the Gaza Strip if Israel ends its blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory, France`s foreign minister said on Sunday.

Bernard Kouchner, who spoke after dinner with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in Paris, noted that the EU has had monitors deployed at Gaza`s border crossing with Egypt at Rafah, and could do so again.

"We can check the cargo of ships heading toward Gaza — we can do it, we want to do it, we would gladly do it," Kouchner said, adding that the European Union should do more for the Middle East peace process.

Hague said the EU will show "no lack of willingness ... to participate in solutions”.

France and Britain have pushed urgently for an end to the blockade since a deadly raid last week on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. Nine activists were killed in an Israeli commando mission.

Earlier on Sunday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy`s office said he spoke by phone to Israel`s Prime Minister and urged him to accept an international inquiry commission into the deadly raid. Hague also said he spoke to Israel`s defence minister about the need for an investigation.

Israel`s ambassador to the US has said Israel rejects the idea.

Bureau Report

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