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CIA chief visiting Israel and other Middle East nations as war in Gaza grinds on

CIA director William Burns testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 10, 2022. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

CIA director William Burns testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 10, 2022. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

CIA director Bill Burns is visiting Israel and other countries in the region this week for talks on the war in Gaza and the efforts to release hostages held by Hamas, two Israeli officials confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: Burns’ trip is part of the Biden administration’s ongoing engagement with key parties in an effort to get a humanitarian pause in the fighting and prevent a regional war.

Driving the news: Burns arrived in Israel on Sunday. He is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Mossad chief David Barnea and other senior defense and intelligence officials, the Israeli officials said.

  • Burns is also expected to visit Qatar, which plays a key role in the talks to secure the release of the hostages held by Hamas, and Egypt, which plays a central role in efforts to get humanitarian aid into Gaza. He is also expected to visit Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Burns’ visit to the region was first reported by Israel’s Channel 13.

What they’re saying: Burns will meet with several of his intelligence counterparts and leaders in the Middle East to “discuss issues of mutual concern including the situation in Gaza, support for hostage negotiations, and the US commitment to continuing to deter state and non-state actors from widening the conflict between Israel and Hamas,” a U.S. official told Axios.

  • Burns “will reinforce our commitment to intelligence cooperation, especially in areas such as counterterrorism and security,” the official added.
  • A CIA spokesperson said the agency doesn’t comment on the director’s schedule.

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