TEHRAN (FNA)- The UN Security Council late Saturday failed to agree on a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip after the United States had argued a return to the situation that existed before Israel's ground invasion was unacceptable.
After nearly four hours of closed-door consultations, members of the council emerged without reaching agreement that would have asked Israel to end eight-day hostilities that have claimed the lives of at least 483 Palestinians and wounded 2400 more.
The meeting was the Security Council's third since the conflict erupted on December 27.
French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, who presides in the council this month, said "there was no formal agreement between member states" on a Gaza statement.
"But I have noted strong convergences about our concern at the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the situation and strong convergences on our call for an immediate, durable and respected ceasefire," Ripert told reporters after the meeting.
A draft statement submitted earlier for the council's consideration by Libya on behalf of the Arab League had expressed "serious concern" about the ground invasion and called on the parties "to observe an immediate ceasefire and for its full respect".
As Israel's closest ally, Washington has regularly vetoed Security Council resolutions it sees as too critical of the Zionist regime.
Earlier in Cairo, Arab League chief Amr Mussa accused the Security Council of "ignoring" Israel's onslaught on Gaza, saying the delay in agreeing on a resolution was proof of failure to handle the conflict.
"The continuation of ... the international community and the Security Council ignoring this situation is a very dangerous thing," he told reporters at a press conference in the pan-Arab organization's Cairo headquarters.
On Friday, US President George W. Bush made clear he would not condemn an Israeli ground offensive.
However, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an "immediate" halt to the violence and urged Israel to allow humanitarian aid into the impoverished Palestinian territory.