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Biden discussed with leaders of Egypt and Qatar release of hostages by Hamas

Biden discussed with leaders of Egypt and Qatar release of hostages by Hamas President of the United States Joe Biden (photo: Getty Images)

President Joe Biden held talks on Friday, January 26, with the leaders of Egypt and Qatar ahead of the trip to Europe by CIA Director William Burns. The discussions aimed to negotiate an agreement for the release of a larger number of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to the Associated Press.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, during a briefing, noted that President Biden spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the ruling Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. According to Kirby, while the negotiations were constructive, we should not expect swift developments.

"We continue to do everything we can to facilitate another hostage deal, just as we did in November," he added.

According to sources, CIA Director Burns is scheduled to meet with the head of Israeli intelligence Mossad, David Barnea, the Prime Minister of Qatar Al Thani, and the head of Egyptian intelligence Abbas Kamel in Europe.

The negotiations will focus on the release of hostages in exchange for a pause in hostilities. The Biden administration hopes that the agreement could lead to a lasting ceasefire, ultimately bringing an end to the war. Burns' trip follows this week's visit to the Middle East by White House Senior Advisor Brett McGurk, who also discussed hostage releases in Gaza.

McGurk laid the groundwork for another visit to the region by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Next week, he may undertake his fifth trip to the Middle East since the beginning of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in October of last year.

Israel-Hamas war and release of hostages

On October 7, 2023, Hamas militants initiated a military attack on Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. In the initial days, radical Islamists killed 1200 civilians and soldiers, while approximately 250 individuals were abducted.

By late October, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commenced a ground military operation in the Gaza Strip against the militants. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the objective of the operation was the destruction of Hamas's operational and governmental capabilities, along with the liberation of hostages.

In November, as a result of hostage exchange negotiations, Hamas released around 120 individuals, and Israel freed a group of Palestinian prisoners. However, hostilities resumed in the region later.

On January 23, through Qatari and Egyptian intermediaries, Israel proposed a pause in hostilities with Hamas, lasting up to two months, as part of a multi-stage agreement that includes the release of all hostages.

On January 25, it was revealed that CIA Director William Burns would travel to Europe to work on an agreement for the release of hostages in the Gaza Strip.