Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (left) and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar on October 14, 2023

Qatar Open To Reconsidering Hamas Presence, US Official Says

Friday, 10/27/2023

Qatar told the US it was open to reconsidering the presence of Hamas in Qatar once a crisis is resolved to secure the release of scores of hostages taken to Gaza.

The understanding, first reported by the Washington Post, was reached at a meeting in Doha this month between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Reuters quoted a US official as saying.

There was no immediate response from Qatari officials to the news on Friday.

The tiny Gulf state, in coordination with the US, is leading mediation talks with Hamas and Israeli officials over the release of more than 200 hostages captured in the Palestinian group's October 7 cross-border terror attack.

On Wednesday, Qatar's prime minister said negotiations to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas were progressing and he was hopeful there would soon be a breakthrough.

Qatar's role and the Hamas presence in Qatar have faced criticism in Congress. A bipartisan group of 113 US lawmakers on Oct. 16 sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to put pressure on countries who support Hamas, including Qatar.

They asked that Qatar, a major non-NATO US ally, to expel Hamas leadership. "The country’s links to Hamas... are simply unacceptable," the letter said.

Hamas opened its political office in Doha in 2012 and several Hamas officials including the group's leader Ismail Haniyeh and former head Khaled Meshaal regularly spend time in Doha.

At an October 13 joint press conference with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Blinken said there could be "no more business as usual" with Hamas, when asked if the US wanted Doha to shut Hamas' political office.

Reporting by Reuters

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