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Updated February 10th, 2024 at 12:42 IST

CIA Director Bill Burns to Travel to Cairo for Hostage Negotiation Talks

Burns' anticipated visit to Egypt is scheduled for next Tuesday, although the CIA has declined to comment on his travel arrangements.

Sagar Kar
CIA Director Bill Burns
CIA Director Bill Burns | Image:AP
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CIA Director Bill Burns is set to embark on a crucial journey to Cairo next week, where he will engage in high-stakes meetings with Egyptian officials concerning the ongoing efforts to secure the release of remaining hostages in Gaza. According to sources from both the United States and Israel, cited in an Axios report, Burns will play a pivotal role as President Biden's emissary in these negotiations.

The significance of Burns' trip cannot be overstated. As the Biden administration's key figure in the quest for a hostage deal and cessation of hostilities, his presence in Cairo adds substantial pressure on mediators from Qatar and Egypt to compel Hamas to reach a reasonable agreement. U.S. officials have underscored the critical importance of a hostage deal in achieving a ceasefire in Gaza. President Biden recently emphasized his administration's vigorous pursuit of such an agreement, recognizing it as the primary path toward peace.

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CIA director is anticipated to reach Egypt on Tuesday 

Burns' anticipated visit to Egypt is scheduled for next Tuesday, although the CIA has declined to comment on his travel arrangements.

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In recent developments, Israel has conveyed to Egyptian and Qatari mediators its rejection of most of Hamas' demands in response to the latest hostage deal proposal. However, Israel has signaled its willingness to commence negotiations based on an earlier proposal from two weeks ago. This proposal outlined a three-phase framework, including a six-week ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the liberation of Israeli hostages.

US remains cautiously optimistic 

While Hamas initially articulated several demands, some of which were deemed nonstarters by Israel, U.S. officials have expressed cautious optimism. Despite significant gaps between the parties, Hamas' response has been perceived as an opportunity to pursue negotiations for a revised agreement.

Netanyahu thinks Hamas' demands are “delusional”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterized Hamas' demands as "delusional" but refrained from categorically rejecting the possibility of future talks.

Against this backdrop, a Hamas delegation engaged in discussions in Cairo on Thursday with senior Egyptian intelligence officials. The talks centered on the hostage deal and potential pathways for progress, as confirmed by statements from Egyptian and Hamas officials.

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As Burns prepares to navigate the delicate negotiations in Cairo, all eyes remain fixed on the prospects for a breakthrough in securing the release of hostages and fostering a lasting ceasefire in Gaza.

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Published February 10th, 2024 at 12:42 IST

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