Gaps narrow in Israel-Hamas ceasefire talks, says Blinken during Mideast visit

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken,third left, listens, during a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, 21 March, 2024.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken,third left, listens, during a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, 21 March, 2024. Copyright AP
By Euronews with AP
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"I think an agreement is very much possible,” US Secretary of State Blinken said during his sixth visit to the region since 7 October. He is expected to travel to Israel on Friday.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the “gaps are narrowing” in negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a ceasefire and hostage release brokered by the US, Egypt and Qatar.

Blinken's sixth visit to the region since 7 October began in Saudi Arabia with a stop in Egypt on Thursday and one in Israel scheduled for Friday.  

Blinken said on Wednesday the mediators had been working with Israel to put a “strong proposal” on the table. Even though Hamas rejected it, they came back with demands currently being reviewed.

"I think an agreement is very much possible,” Blinken said.

Death toll increases in Gaza

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza raised the territory's death toll Thursday to nearly 32,000 Palestinians. 

While the ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count, it says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead. 

A United Nations food agency warned that “famine is imminent” in northern Gaza.

Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people in the surprise 7 October attack out of Gaza that triggered the war, and abducted another 250 people. Hamas is still believed to be holding some 100 people hostage, as well as the remains of 30 others.

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