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Qatar emir due in Paris for talks on Gaza

The Qatar ruler's trip on Tuesday and Wednesday will be his first state visit to France since he became emir
— Paris (AFP)

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.

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 a truce in Gaza and release more hostages abducted by the Palestinian militant group in its attack on Israel on October 7.

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 hostages, 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 hostages and 240 Palestinian prisoners freed but so far no other such deal has been agreed 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 hostage deal for temporary ceasefire would look like", White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN.

The war broke out after Hamas's unprecedented attack which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

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

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 29,692 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest tally issued Sunday by the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.