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Biden speaks with Qatar, Egypt leaders about hostages

By AFP - Nov 23,2023 - Last updated at Nov 23,2023

US President Joe Biden and US first lady Jill Biden visit the Nantucket Fire Department on Thanksgiving on Thursday in Nantucket, Massachusetts (AFP photo)

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden spoke with the leaders of Egypt, Israel and Qatar on Wednesday, the White House said, his first publicly announced talks with them since a hostage deal was announced between Israel and Hamas.

Biden and his government negotiated through Qatar and Egypt to arrange the deal, in which Hamas will free at least 50 hostages and Israel will release scores of Palestinian prisoners, while offering a four-day truce to war-battered Gaza.

Biden and Qatar Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani "committed to remain in close contact to ensure the deal is fully implemented", the White House said in a readout of the call.

“They reiterated the importance of protecting civilian lives, respecting international humanitarian law and increasing and sustaining humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza,” it said.

When the fighting will halt, and the hostages will be exchanged, remains to be seen, however, with Israeli officials telling AFP that there will be “no pause” before Friday, delaying a widely anticipated lull which had been expected to start at 10:00am local time

Biden told Sisi that “under no circumstances will the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank” or “the redrawing of the borders of Gaza”, while also affirming that Gaza cannot “remain a sanctuary for Hamas”.

“The president affirmed his commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state and recognised Egypt’s essential role in setting the conditions for that outcome.”

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