CIA Director Bill Burns visited Qatar on Tuesday for meetings with Qatari officials as well as his Israeli and Egyptian counterparts to push for a broader hostage deal that would expand beyond women and children to include negotiations for men and soldiers, a source familiar with the talks told CNN.
“Director Burns traveled to Doha for meetings about the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, including continued discussions on the hostages,” a US official said.
Another person familiar with the trip said the CIA director would be joined in Doha by the director of Israel’s intelligence service Mossad, David Barnea, and the Director of Egyptian General Intelligence, Abbas Kamel.
Burns’ trip to Qatar comes after the truce was extended by two days. His latest push is for the talks to expand to include the men who are being held in addition to male and female Israeli soldiers, which would include expanding the temporary pause that is now slated to last six days, a source said.
Israeli officials have publicly acknowledged that it will cost a higher price to get Israeli men and soldiers home. Under the current agreement, three Palestinian prisoners are released for every one hostage that Hamas frees.
The trip comes as Americans are still being held hostage, including two American women eligible for release under the current deal and several more who are men and therefore unlikely to be included. Abigail Edan, the 4-year-old American dual citizen abducted by Hamas on October 7, was released Sunday, marking the first successful release of an American hostage since the start of the truce between Israel and Hamas.
Burns has been a central player in the Biden administration’s effort to negotiate a deal for Hamas to release hostages and has been in regular contact with Barnea, who was designated by the Israelis as the point person for hostage negotiations.
Burns was in Doha on November 9 meeting with Qatari leaders and Barnea to go over the “emerging arrangement,” a senior US administration official said. A week and a half later, Burns was called into a meeting in Doha led by the White House’s top Middle East adviser, Brett McGurk, as the finished touches were being put on the agreement that would see at least 50 hostages released over four days.
The agreement was brokered by Qatar, which served as an intermediary between Hamas and Israel in negotiations with the close involvement of the US.