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Ashton, in Gaza, condemns violence after fatal rocket fire

18 March 2010, 15:21 CET
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(GAZA CITY) - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton condemned "any kind of violence" on Thursday after Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, where she was on a brief visit, fired a rocket into Israel, killing one man.

"I condemn any kind of violence, we need to move forward to get the peace process moving toward a successful resolution," Ashton told reporters in Gaza.

As Ashton toured the coastal enclave a rocket slammed into the Netiv Ha'assera kibbutz in Israel, a few kilometres (couple of miles) from the Gaza border.

Earlier Ashton's first stop was a UN-run girls' school in the Jabalya refugee camp.

The English baroness was also due to hold talks with UN officials during her brief visit to Gaza, which is still struggling with the aftermath of the devastating 22-day military offensive Israel launched in December 2008 in response to Palestinian rocket attacks.

She has made it clear she would not meet any officials of the Islamist Hamas movement which has ruled Gaza since ousting forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in a week of deadly fighting in 2007.

Hamas remains on the EU and US lists of "terrorist" organisations.

Israel and Egypt impose a tight embargo on the Gaza Strip only allowing in basic and humanitarian supplies.

Ashton was on a five-day tour of the region ahead of Friday's meeting of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet in Moscow.

She has also visited Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel as well as the West Bank.


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