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Hamas negotiators, CIA chief in Cairo for ceasefire talks in Gaza

REUTERS/MARCH 11 Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns, seen here in March as a witness at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, is in Cairo this weekend for peace talks in Gaza.

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REUTERS / MARCH 11

Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns, a witness here in March at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, is in Cairo this weekend for peace talks in Gaza.

CAIRO >> Hamas negotiators arrived in Cairo today for intensified talks on a possible ceasefire in Gaza that would see some hostages returned to Israel, a Hamas official told Reuters, with the CIA director already present for the indirect diplomacy .

State-affiliated Egyptian TV channel Al-Qahera News also confirmed the arrival of the Hamas delegation in Cairo.

“The results today will be different. We have reached agreement on many points, and some points remain,” an Egyptian security source told Reuters.

A Palestinian official with knowledge of the mediation efforts sounded cautiously optimistic.

“Things look better this time, but whether there will be an agreement depends on whether Israel has offered what is needed to make that happen,” the official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters .

The Hamas delegation arrived from the Palestinian Islamist movement’s headquarters in Qatar, which has been working with Egypt to mediate a follow-up to a brief ceasefire in November. Although Washington formally shuns Hamas, the country has called for a deal.

However, the talks have stumbled over Hamas’ long-standing demand for a commitment to end Israel’s nearly seven-month-old offensive, which has insisted it would resume operations intended to halt the war after any ceasefire. faction to disarm and dismantle.

Signaling a possible breakthrough, Hamas said on Friday it would come to Cairo in a “positive spirit” after reviewing the latest proposal for a deal, little of which has been made public. Israel has previously said it is open to the new terms.

Egyptian sources said William Burns, director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, arrived in Cairo on Friday. He has been involved in previous rounds of ceasefire talks and Washington has indicated that progress may be made this time.

The CIA declined to comment on Burns’ route.

Egypt again tried to revive negotiations at the end of last year

month ago, alarmed by the prospect of an Israeli attack on Hamas in Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than 1 million Palestinians have taken refuge near the border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

A major Israeli operation in Rafah could deal a huge blow to vulnerable humanitarian operations in Gaza and endanger many more lives, according to UN officials.

The war began after Hamas carried out a cross-border attack on October 7 that killed 1,200 people in southern Israel and took 252 hostages, according to Israeli figures.

More than 34,600 Palestinians have been killed and more than 77,000 injured by Israeli fire during a campaign that has devastated the coastal enclave, according to Gaza’s health ministry.