US envoy briefs Egypt on Rafah agreement

A US envoy briefed Egypt's foreign minister Thursday on an Israel-Palestinian agreement to open the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt next week in the presence of European monitors. The opening of Rafah, weeks after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, will mark the first time Palestinians have control over a border, and many hope the free flow through the crossing will help revitalize Gaza's devastated economy. Israel is concerned over the possibility of weapons and militants entering the territory. It took an all-night negotiation session by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday to seal an agreement. US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch met Thursday in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abou Gheit to give him details on the agreement. Afterward, Welch said Egypthas an important role in enabling Gaza "to be a more secure, more prosperous, more open place, so that the welfare of Palestinian people can gain strength."