US president holds separate calls with leaders from Qatar, Egypt over Gaza ceasefire talks

CAIRO (Reuters) -Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi received a phone call on Monday from U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss the latest developments in negotiations over a ceasefire in Gaza and the dangers of a military escalation in Rafah, Egypt's presidency said.

The call also touched on the exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, a main sticking point in any comprehensive ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel, the spokesman for the Egyptian Presidency added.

Biden urged Sisi and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, whom he spoke to separately, to exert all efforts to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas "as this is now the only obstacle to an immediate ceasefire and relief for the people of Gaza," the White House said.

A Hamas delegation is in Cairo to deliberate on Israel's response to a ceasefire deal.

The danger of a military escalation in Rafah was also stressed, in how it would add catastrophe to an already worsening humanitarian crisis that would impact stability and security in the region, the Egyptian presidency's statement said.

"President Al-Sisi stressed the necessity of full and adequate access to humanitarian aid, reviewing the intensive Egyptian efforts in this regard," it added.

"The two presidents also stressed the necessity of working to prevent expansion of the conflict and reaffirmed the importance of the two-state solution as the means to achieve security, peace, and stability in the region."

Biden and the Qatari emir discussed developments in the situation in Gaza and efforts of the two countries to reach an immediate and permanent ceasefire agreement in Gaza, Qatar's Emiri Diwan said.

(Reporting by Mohamed Hindaway; Writing by Adam Makary and Hatem Maher; Editing by Leslie Adler, Toby Chopra and Sandra Maler)