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US: Gaza hostage deal still possible but 'very hard' issues remain

February 16, 2024 at 12:13 pm

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Albanian President Bajram Begaj (R) in Tirana, Albania on February 15, 2024 [Albanian Presidency – Anadolu Agency]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday that a deal on the release of prisoners of war held by Hamas remains possible but there remain “very hard” issues to be resolved, Reuters reports.

Blinken was speaking at a news conference during a visit to Albania days after talks involving the US, Egypt, Israel and Qatar on a deal that would see a pause in fighting in Gaza ended without a breakthrough on Tuesday.

Mediators are seeking to achieve a cessation of hostilities before Israel launches a wide-scale ground invasion of Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where more than 1.4 million Palestinians reside, over a million forced into the area after being removed from their homes by Israel’s brutal bombing of Gaza since 7 October.

“There are some very, very hard issues that have to be resolved. But we’re committed to doing everything we can to move forward and to see if we can reach an agreement,” Blinken said.

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