Moratinos, Kouchner, Frattini to visit Gaza in July: Spain

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The foreign ministers of Spain, France and Italy will visit Gaza this month to check on Israel's plan to ease a blockade of the territory, Spanish premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Monday.

The ministers "have a visit to Gaza in their calendars for this month to check how the internal process of lifting of the blockade is going," Zapatero told a joint news conference with visiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman last month invited Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini to lead a European Union delegation to the Gaza Strip.

Frattini will be accompanied by his Spanish and French counterparts, Miguel Angel Moratinos and Bernard Kouchner, Zapatero said, but did not indicate the exact date of the visit.

Israel last month announced an easing of its blockade of Gaza, allowing the import of strictly "civilian" goods but restricting "problematic dual-use" items -- thought to include construction materials which can be used to build rockets and bunkers.

The new policy follows mounting international pressure in the wake of a May 31 Israeli commando raid that killed nine Turkish activists aboard a flotilla of aid ships on a blockade-busting bid.

© 2010 AFP

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