William Burns
William BurnsReuters

CIA director William Burns is expected to travel to Cairo this weekend for talks with the chief of the Mossad and top Qatari and Egyptian officials in an effort to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, two sources with direct knowledge told Axios’ Barak Ravid on Thursday.

Burns is expected to meet with Mossad director David Barnea, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani and Egyptian spy chief Abbas Kamel.

The meeting will take place after President Biden urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a call on Thursday "to empower his negotiators to conclude a deal without delay to bring the hostages home."

A US official said Biden's position remains that there should be a ceasefire as part of a hostage deal and it should happen immediately, and this is why the President pressed Netanyahu on this issue during their call.

Israel and Hamas have been holding indirect talks in an attempt to achieve a ceasefire and bring about the release of hostages held by Hamas but there has not been a breakthrough thus far.

Israel had said it was interested only in a temporary truce to free hostages. Hamas has said it will let them go only as part of a deal to permanently end the war.

Earlier this week, a senior diplomatic official in Israel expressed optimism that a deal to return the hostages held by Hamas is possible in the near future.

"If Hamas is interested in a deal - we can move forward. We have come a long way this time as well, there is potential for progress in the coming days," said the source.

On Wednesday, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said that the terrorist group was sticking to its conditions for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, including an Israeli military withdrawal.

"We are committed to our demands: the permanent ceasefire, comprehensive and complete withdrawal of the enemy out of the Gaza Strip, the return of all displaced people to their homes, allowing all aid needed for our people in Gaza, rebuilding the Strip, lifting the blockade and achieving an honorable prisoner exchange deal," Haniyeh said in a televised speech marking Al-Quds Day.