SYDNEY - Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said his group is close to reaching a "truce agreement" in talks with Qatar and Israel that would clear the way for the release of some hostages held by the militants.
"The movement delivered its response to the brothers in Qatar and the mediators, and we are close to reaching a truce agreement," Haniyeh said in a statement on Telegram.
His comments come after United States President Joe Biden said Monday that Israel and Hamas are closing in on a deal to free a group of hostages. “I believe so," Biden said when asked if a deal was near. He added that he wasn’t prepared to offer details.
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip, is engaged in the talks and has agreed in principle for more than 50 women and children to be released, Axios reported earlier. In return, Israel would pause its military attacks for a specified time each day and release some Palestinians in Israeli jails.
Qatar, which hosts some of Hamas’s political leaders, is helping broker the talks.
Hamas is backed by Iran and is designated a terrorist organisation by the US and European Union (EU).
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Palestinian group Hamas' top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, talks after meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in Beirut, Lebanon, on June 28, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)