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Biden presses Egypt and Qatar on ceasefire, hostage deal

By AFP

April 30, 2024 08:20 AM


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US President Joe Biden on Monday urged the leaders of Egypt and Qatar to "exert all efforts" towards securing the release of hostages held by Hamas as part of negotiations for a Gaza ceasefire, the White House said.

Washington, Doha and Cairo have been mediating for months to achieve a truce in the Palestinian territory which has endured relentless bombing by Israel in response to the unprecedented deadly attack by Hamas against Israel on October 7.

Representatives from Egypt, Qatar and Hamas met Monday in Cairo, with the Palestinian Islamist group expected to respond to a proposal for a second truce in Gaza, coupled with a fresh release of hostages.

In separate phone calls Biden spoke with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and discussed "the deal now on the table," the White House said in nearly identical statements.

Biden urged the leaders "to exert all efforts to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas as this is now the only obstacle to an immediate ceasefire and relief for the people of Gaza," the White House said.

A source close to Hamas told AFP that the group's delegation was keen to respond "as quickly as possible" to the proposal.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, visiting Riyadh, said he was hopeful Hamas would accept the offer, which he characterized as "extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel."

The deal would include a "sustained 40 days' ceasefire" along with the release potentially of thousands of Palestinian prisoners, in exchange for the return of hostages held by Hamas, Britain's top diplomat David Cameron said in the Saudi capital.

Since the start of the war, a single week-long truce was declared, in late November.


AFP


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