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Diplomatic efforts for Israel-Hamas hostage talks expected to resume next week, sources say

Negotiations between Israel and Hamas Negotiations aimed at reaching an agreement to free Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip are expected to resume next week, two informed sources told CBS News on Saturday. Negotiators from Qatar, Egypt and the United States will participate in the negotiations.

“There is progress,” a senior Biden administration official told CBS News. “Contacts are ongoing and we are working closely with the Egyptian and Qatari mediators. These contacts will continue over the coming week as we seek to advance the negotiation process.”

CIA Director William Burns visited Paris last week as part of a high-level effort to revive hostage talks, which had faltered in recent weeks.

In Israel, hostage families continue to pressure Netanyahu’s politically embattled government to reach a diplomatic deal with Hamas to bring their loved ones home after nearly eight months in captivity. Around 120 hostages are still believed to be held, including five American citizens.

Hamas has been pressuring Israel for a lasting ceasefire in Gaza.

A previous round of negotiations in Cairo ended in early May without significant progress, although U.S. officials expressed optimism that differences between Israel and Hamas could be overcome. Burns led the U.S. delegation to Egypt and remains in contact with David Barnea, head of Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency.

A source in the region said progress was made during Friday’s meeting in Paris with Burns, Barnea and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani. Two U.S. officials said their work in Paris would help bring all sides closer to resuming hostage negotiations.

During a keynote speech at West Point on Saturday, President Joe Biden said the United States was engaged in “urgent diplomacy to secure an immediate ceasefire that would bring the hostages home.”

On Friday, the White House announced that Biden had discussed “new initiatives” with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to secure the release of the hostages as well as an “immediate and lasting ceasefire” in Gaza.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with an Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz Friday. The State Department spokesperson said it included discussion of the “latest efforts to achieve a ceasefire as part of an agreement to free the hostages and prevent the conflict from spread across the region.

The war in Gaza follows a Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 that killed around 1,200 people, about a quarter of them soldiers, and another 250 taken captive. At least 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians.

Michal Ben-Gal, Kristin Brown and Arden Farhi contributed reporting.

News Source : www.cbsnews.com
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