Biden urges Egypt, Qatar leaders to press Hamas on deal for Israeli hostages in Gaza

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US President Joe Biden on Friday wrote to the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, calling on them to press Hamas for hostage deal with Israel, according to a senior administration official, one day after Biden called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to redouble efforts to reach a ceasefire in the six-month-old war in Gaza.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private letters, said Biden’s national security adviser will meet Monday with family members of some of the estimated 100 hostages who are believed to still be in Gaza.

For the latest updates on the Israel-Palestine conflict, visit our dedicated page.

The letters to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, come as Biden has deployed CIA Director Bill Burns to Cairo for talks this weekend about the hostage crisis.

White House officials say negotiating a pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas to facilitate the exchange of hostages held in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel is the only way to put a temporary cease-fire into effect and boost the flow of badly humanitarian aid into the territory.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said earlier Friday that Biden underscored the need to get a hostage deal done during a Thursday conversation with Netanyahu that largely focused on Israeli airstrikes that killed seven aid workers with World Central Kitchen.

“We are coming up on six months — six months that these people have been held hostage. And what we have to consider is just the abhorrent conditions” the hostages are being held in, Kirby said. “They need to be home with their families.”

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