Hamas, CIA director to hold talks in Cairo on Gaza truce

Hamas, CIA director to hold talks in Cairo on Gaza truce
Hamas, CIA director to hold talks in Cairo on Gaza truce

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A Palestinian man walks on piles of garbage, amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, at Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, May 2, 2024. ― Reuters pic

CAIRO, May 4 ― Hamas said yesterday it was sending a delegation to Cairo to discuss a deal for a truce and the release of hostages in Gaza, hours after US CIA Director William Burns arrived in the Egyptian capital, according to Egyptian sources.

Egypt, along with Qatar and the United States, has been leading efforts to mediate between Israel and Hamas to broker a deal for a ceasefire in the conflict that began on October 7.

The Hamas and CIA officials will meet Egyptian mediators today, an Egyptian security source said, though it was unclear whether they would meet separately or together.

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Hamas said its delegates were travelling to Cairo in a "positive spirit" after studying the latest proposal for a truce agreement.

"We are determined to secure an agreement in a way that fulfils Palestinians' demands," the Palestinian militant group said in a statement.

A US official said the United States believed there had been some progress in talks but was still waiting to hear more.

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The CIA declined to comment, reflecting its policy of not disclosing the director's travel.

Ceasefire talks have continued for months without a decisive breakthrough. Israel has said it is determined to eliminate Hamas, while Hamas says it wants a permanent ceasefire and a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Egypt made a renewed push to revive negotiations late last month. Cairo is alarmed by the prospect of an Israeli ground operation against Hamas in Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than 1 million people have taken shelter near the border with Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

Egyptian sources say both sides have made some concessions recently, leading to progress in the talks, though Israel has continued to say an operation in Rafah is imminent.

The war began after Hamas staged a cross-border raid on October 7 in which 1,200 people in southern Israel were killed and 253 hostages taken, according to Israeli tallies.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 77,000 have been wounded by Israeli fire during a campaign that has laid waste to the coastal enclave, according to Gaza's health ministry.

A major Israeli operation in Rafah could deal a huge blow to fragile humanitarian operations in Gaza and put many more lives at risk, according to UN officials. ― Reuters

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