Qatar told US it’s open to reconsidering Hamas presence on its territory: US official

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Qatar told the US it was open to reconsidering the presence of Hamas in Qatar once a crisis is resolved to secure the release of scores of hostages taken to Gaza by the Palestinian militant group, a senior US official said on Friday.

The understanding, first reported by the Washington Post, was reached at a meeting in Doha this month between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the official said.

There was no immediate response from Qatari officials to the news on Friday.

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The Gulf state, in coordination with the US, is leading mediation talks with Hamas and Israeli officials over the release of more than 200 hostages captured in the Palestinian group’s October 7 cross-border attack.

Qatar has brought about the release of four hostages through its dialogue with both Israel and Hamas.

On Wednesday, Qatar’s prime minister said negotiations the Gulf Arab state was leading to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas were progressing and he was hopeful there would soon be a breakthrough.

Hamas opened its political office in Doha in 2012 and several Hamas officials including the group's leader Ismail Haniyeh and former head Khaled Meshaal regularly spend time in Doha.

At an October 14 joint press conference with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Blinken said there could be “no more business as usual” with Hamas, when asked if the US wanted Doha to shut Hamas’ political office.

Sheikh Mohammed at the same time said the purpose of the political office was “to be as a way of communicating and delivering peace and calm to the region, not to instigate any war.” He said it was important to keep communication channels open.

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