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US says talks came to ‘understanding’ on hostages, possible Gaza ceasefire

US says talks came to ‘understanding’ on hostages, possible Gaza ceasefire

WASHINGTON — The United States said Sunday that multinational talks in Paris came to an "understanding" on a possible deal for Hamas to release hostages and for a new ceasefire in the Gaza war.

An Israeli delegation led by Mossad chief David Barnea was in the French capital on Friday to discuss a deal to ensure a fresh ceasefire and the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

"Representatives of Israel, the United States, Egypt, and Qatar met in Paris and came to an understanding among the four of them about what the basic contours of a hostage deal for temporary ceasefire would look like," White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN.

"It is still under negotiation in terms of hammering out the details of it. There will have to be indirect discussions by Qatar and Egypt with Hamas because ultimately they will have to agree to release the hostages," he said.

"That work is underway. And we hope that in the coming days, we can drive to a point where there is actually a firm and final agreement on this issue."

Negotiations for a ceasefire have resumed in Doha between the four countries, as well as Hamas representatives, state-linked Egyptian media reported Sunday.

During the unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, Palestinian militants took some 250 hostages, 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 30 presumed dead, according to Israel.

As with a previous week-long truce in November that saw more than 100 hostages and 240 Palestinian prisoners freed, Qatar, Egypt and the United States have been spearheading efforts to secure a new deal.

International pressure for a ceasefire has mounted in recent weeks, as the death toll from Israel's military offensive on the Palestinian territory nears 30,000, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas—which rules Gaza—in response to its October attack that resulted in the deaths of 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures. — Agence France-Presse