Qatar emir due in Paris for talks on Gaza

AFP , Sunday 25 Feb 2024

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, whose country has played the key mediation role in the Gaza war, visits Paris this week for talks with President Emmanuel Macron, the French presidency said Sunday.

Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani AFP


The ruler's trip on Tuesday and Wednesday will be his first state visit to France since he became emir of the small but gas-rich and hugely influential emirate in 2013, according to the Elysee.

Qatar has emerged as the key player in mediation between Israel and Hamas to agree on a truce in Gaza and release more captives.

It hosts the political bureau of Hamas but also enjoys warm relations with the United States.

"Qatar is notably working on the release of the captives, which is a priority for us," said a French presidential official. Three French nationals are among those still held by Hamas.

The discussions will also focus on "ongoing efforts to obtain a ceasefire... and enable massive aid to be provided to the Gazan population," added the official.

A previous week-long truce in November saw more than 100 captives and 240 Palestinian prisoners freed but so far no other such deal has been agreed upon despite intense efforts over the last weeks.

Egyptian, Qatari, and US experts met in Doha on Sunday for talks also attended by Israeli and Hamas representatives, state-linked Egyptian media said, seeking to secure a truce before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Doha talks followed a weekend meeting in Paris, without Hamas, where representatives "came to an understanding among the four of them about what the basic contours of a captive deal for a temporary ceasefire would look like", White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN.

Hamas took about 250 Israeli and foreign captives, 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 31 presumed dead, according to Israel.

Since Oct.7, Israel's offensive has killed at least 29,692 people, 70% of them women and children, according to the latest tally issued Sunday by the Palestinian health ministry.

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