UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. secretary-general said Tuesday it is his "hope and belief" that his emergency mission to the Middle East will lead to an end to the fighting between Hamas and Israel "in the very near future."
Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council by videoconference from the West Bank city of Ramallah that he could not publicly reveal details "at this highly sensitive moment." As he started to address the council a siren could be heard in the background.
The U.N. chief has also visited Qatar, Kuwait, Cairo and Jerusalem, and said he will go on to Jordan and Saudi Arabia on what he called his mission "of solidarity and peace." In the last three days he has met with the head of the Arab League and Arab, Palestinian and Israeli leaders as well as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Norway's foreign minister. He also spoke to French President Francois Hollande.
"Suffice it to say, it is my hope and belief that these talks will lead to results and an end to the fighting in the very near future," Ban said.
He cautioned, however, that "of course there are many obstacles and complexities."
Ban said "the most promising prospect of a cease-fire" in an Egyptian initiative to return to the cessation of fighting in November 2012 that has been endorsed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab League - but unfortunately not Hamas.
"I encourage all those with influence to urge constructive action," Ban said. "This is the most meaningful path to peace."
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, urged the Security Council, which is often divided on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to adopt a resolution demanding an end to the fighting.
He said a resolution backed by the Palestinians and their supporters will be circulated to the 15 council members later Tuesday.