Summit urges Gaza pullout

Summit urges Gaza pullout

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt - A summit of European and Middle Eastern leaders rallied international support for the fragile truce in the Gaza Strip on Sunday and stepped up pressure on Israel to withdraw its troops.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who co-chaired the summit with Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak, said Israel should pull out its forces from the Gaza Strip if Palestinian militants stop firing rockets at the Jewish state.

With five other European leaders in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Sarkozy said: "Israel must indicate clearly that if the rocket firing stops, the Israeli army will leave Gaza."

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown went further, saying Israeli soldiers must withdraw immediately, but also called on Hamas to end the rocket attacks that sparked the three-week war.

The summit, which included neither Hamas nor Israeli representatives, convened as Palestinian armed groups offered a one-week truce in response to the unilateral ceasefire declared by Israel overnight.

"This fragile ceasefire has got to be followed immediately, if it is to be sustainable, by humanitarian access ... by troop withdrawals, by an end to arms trafficking," Brown told journalists.

Mubarak announced plans to host a humanitarian aid conference which Sarkozy suggested should be "in a few days."