| GEO World|
| EU calls for 'permanent' ceasefire in Gaza: French FM|
| Updated at: 0110 PST, Wednesday, December 31, 2008|
PARIS: The European Union called on Tuesday for a permanent ceasefire to end the violence in the Gaza Strip, France said after a crisis meeting of foreign ministers in Paris.
"We want a ceasefire. We want it to be permanent, to be respected, with humanitarian access because there are many victims and also a return to the peace process," said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
He said a joint statement was still being prepared after the meeting of foreign ministers and senior officials from all 27 EU member states but that "there is no difference on this point, on the contrary."
Israeli officials have said they could consider international calls for a pause in fighting to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, but both they and their Hamas opponents have rebuffed previous calls for a lasting truce.