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CIA Director Burns helping broker another deal to release hostages from Hamas

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CIA Director William Burns is helping President Biden with efforts toward a deal to release the remaining hostages held by the militant group Hamas in Gaza amid Israel’s ongoing war in the territory.

“He has been … involved in helping us with the hostage deal that was in place and trying to help us pursue another one,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Thursday.

Kirby said discussions about trying to get a renewed hostage deal have been “sober and serious” and noted that White House adviser Brett McGurk is currently in the Middle East working on a deal.

Burns, who was involved in the effort to secure the Hamas hostages in November, is expected to travel to Europe for talks with the Israelis and Egyptians, according to reporting from The Washington Post.

The CIA declined to comment when asked to confirm the director’s travel.

Burns traveled to Doha, Qatar, for the November deal, which led a weeklong pause in fighting during which Hamas released more than 100 hostages and Israel released more than 200 Palestinian prisoners. That deal took five weeks of intense negotiations between the White House, Qatar, Israel and Hamas.

For that deal, Burns in October began speaking regularly with director of Mossad, David Barnea, to whom Israel had delegated authority to negotiate.

On Nov. 9, Burns met in Doha with Barnea and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, also known as MBAR, to go through the texts of the then-emerging arrangement. And, Nov. 18, Burns dialed into a meeting between McGurk and MBAR in Doha to go over the text of the deal. The pause in fighting lasted from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1

Hamas took almost 250 hostages during its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which left about 1,200 Israelis dead. The first phase of the hostage deal was structured for women and children to be released and was considered at the time to include an expectation for future releases.

Laura Kelly contributed.


Source: The Hill

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