CIA Director William Burns on Tuesday visited Doha, Qatar, as part of an effort by the Biden administration to get the temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas extended further and secure the release of more American hostages held by the militant group, according to multiple news reports.
Burns is holding talks with David Barnea, the chief of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, in the three officials’ second meeting since the war began.
Abbas Kamel, the head of Egypt’s intelligence service, is also joining Tuesday’s meeting, Axios reported.
As of Tuesday morning, 160 hostages out of the 240 that are estimated to have been captured by Palestinian militants on Oct. 7 have been released, according to The Associated Press.
The White House estimates “less than 10” Americans are still being held by Hamas, according to John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications.
Just one American citizen, 4-year-old Abigail Edan, whose parents were killed in the Oct. 7 attack, has been released since the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas started. Two more American captives, a mother and daughter, were freed by Hamas last month.
Burns is calling for “the immediate release” of U.S. captives, The Washington Post reported.
Qatar announced Israel and Hamas had reached a deal to extend the truce originally set to expire Monday for two more days to allow for the release of more hostages.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed the war will restart once the truce ends.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to return to Israel later this week, his third trip to the country since the conflict broke out, the State Department announced Monday.
“In Israel and the West Bank, Secretary Blinken will discuss Israel’s right to defend itself consistent with international humanitarian law, as well as continued efforts to secure the release of remaining hostages, protect civilian life during Israel’s operations in Gaza, and accelerate humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza,” said Matthew Miller, the department’s spokesperson.
Blinken will also go over the “tangible steps” he has previously introduced “to further the creation of a future Palestinian state, and the need to prevent the conflict from widening,” Miller added.