Egypt has announced that a ceasefire had been reached to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, starting later in the day.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr made the announcement on Wednesday in a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The ceasefire would come into effect at 1900 GMT, said Amr, whose country has been at the heart of efforts to broker an end to the conflict.
"Egypt has made great efforts ... since the start of the latest escalation in the Gaza Strip," Amr said.
"These efforts and contacts have resulted in understandings to cease fire and restore calm and halt the bloodshed that the last period has seen," he added.
"Egypt calls on all to monitor the implementation of what has been agreed under Egypt's sponsorship and to guarantee the commitment of all the parties to what has been agreed," he said.
US President Barack Obama on Wednesday spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and commended him for agreeing to the Egyptian government's ceasefire plan in the Middle East, the White House said.
Israel and Hamas agreed on Wednesday to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt to end eight days of fighting in the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis.
"The president expressed his appreciation for the prime minister's efforts to work with the new Egyptian government to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and a more durable solution to this problem," a White House statement said.
Obama reiterated his commitment to Israel's security and also said he was committed to seeking funds for joint missile defense programs. – Reuters