US President Joe Biden pressed Friday for the immediate release of hostages seized by Hamas in Israel during talks with the leader of Qatar, which has relations with the militants.
Biden, in San Francisco for an Asia-Pacific summit, in a telephone call with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani “discussed the urgent need for all hostages held by Hamas to be released without further delay,” a White House statement said.
Biden also raised Israel’s decision to let two tankers of diesel each day into the war-torn Gaza Strip, following pleas from the United States.
Biden and the emir “discussed ongoing efforts to increase the flow of urgently needed humanitarian assistance into Gaza and Israel’s decision to resume fuel deliveries for life-saving aid,” the White House said.
Biden two days earlier had told reporters that he was “mildly hopeful” of reaching a deal to free the hostages, believed to include about 10 US citizens.
Fighters from Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, on October 7 infiltrated Israel and killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took about 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.
Israel’s subsequent air and ground campaign has killed 12,000 people, including 5,000 children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.
The militants, who are backed by Iran’s clerical state, maintain a political office in Qatar, which nonetheless is a close US partner.
Qatar has in recent years rejected moves by other Gulf Arab monarchies toward normalizing relations with Israel.
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