Live updates: Israel-Hamas war, Rafah invasion looms as Israel battles Hamas in the north

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US President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan convened for the first time this week with ambassadors and chiefs of mission representing countries whose citizens were taken hostage by Hamas on October 7, CNN has learned.

Sullivan met with representatives from 17 nations: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand and the United Kingdom, according to a US official and senior administration official familiar with the meeting.

The group discussed ideas to secure the release of the hostages in Gaza, with a particular focus on ways that they can speak more as a collective group in both public and private settings, the senior administration official said.

Ceasefire negotiations: The meeting came as negotiations between Israel and Hamas for a deal to secure the release of hostages and ceasefire in Gaza appear to have stalled once again. The representatives gathered with Sullivan brainstormed ways to exert pressure on the negotiating parties — including Israel, Egypt and Qatar — to return to the negotiating table and finalize a ceasefire. One idea that was discussed was finding a way to speak as a collective voice to the United Nations, that official said. 

‘International concern’: Those same 18 countries had released a statement in late April calling on the release of all hostages, warning that the fate of those individuals is “of international concern.”

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