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US official in Middle East for talks on new Gaza ‘pause’: White House

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A senior US official is holding talks in the Middle East on a new, possibly longer deal for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a pause in fighting in Gaza, the White House said Tuesday.

President Joe Biden’s Middle East advisor Brett McGurk was in Egypt and would visit other countries, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said when asked about reports that Israel had proposed a two-month halt.

“Certainly one of the things he’s in the region talking about is the potential for another hostage deal, which would require a humanitarian pause of some length to get that done,” Kirby told a briefing at the White House.

“The conversations are very sober and serious.”

Kirby would not confirm the length of the pause under discussion, but said the White House would welcome one that was longer than the previous halt in November.

“If… that would give us the opportunity to get hostages out and get more aid in, we would absolutely support a humanitarian pause of a longer length than the week that we were able to accomplish,” he added.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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