Hamas Agrees to US-Brokered Talks To Release Israeli Hostages

Hamas has agreed to commence talks on releasing Israeli hostages, including soldiers and civilians, under a US proposal, according to a senior Hamas source, speaking on condition of anonymity with Reuters. This decision marks a crucial step 16 days into the first phase of an agreement aimed at ending the nine-month war in Gaza. The Islamist group has reportedly withdrawn its demand for Israel to agree to a permanent cease-fire as a precondition for the talks.

According to a Palestinian official involved in the peace efforts, this US proposal could pave the way for a framework agreement if Israel participates, potentially ending the long-standing hostilities. The first phase of the plan will allow six weeks for negotiations, focusing on achieving a cease-fire and addressing humanitarian issues.

William Burns, the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, is scheduled to visit Qatar next week to further these negotiations, though a CIA spokesperson has declined to confirm this, adhering to the agency’s policy on confidentiality concerning the director’s travels.

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