Gaza ceasefire talks amid increased aid efforts

A Hamas delegation headed by the group's deputy chief in Gaza, Khalil Al-Hayya, will go to Cairo for ceasefire talks, in response to an invitation extended by Egyptian mediators.

United States CIA Director Bill Burns arrived in Cairo on Saturday evening to attend Sunday's talks, sources at Cairo airport told Reuters. 

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and an Israeli delegation were expected to take part in the talks, Egypt's Al Qahera news reported on Saturday.

Hamas reiterated its demands issued in a March 14 proposal prior to a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip that was passed on March 25.

The demands include a permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, a return of the displaced, and a "serious" exchange deal of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages being held in Gaza, the statement said. 

Meanwhile, a British Royal Navy ship will supply aid to Gaza as part of an international effort to help set up a new humanitarian maritime corridor in early May, the foreign office and ministry of defence said on Saturday.

The multinational effort, involving the US, Cyprus and other partners, will develop a new temporary pier off the coast of Gaza, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said.

"The situation in Gaza is dire and the prospect of famine is real. We remain committed to getting aid to those who so desperately need it," Cameron said in a statement.

Cameron has also pledged funds for aid equipment and logistical expertise to help set up the maritime corridor from Cyprus to Gaza.

The initiative will have aid pre-screened in Cyprus and delivered directly to Gaza, through the new US temporary pier being constructed off the coast or via Ashdod Port after Israel agreed to open it, the foreign ministry said.

British Defence Minister Grant Shapps said the new temporary pier on the coast of Gaza would host cargo ships to deliver aid by sea.

The government said British military teams had been embedded with planning teams in the US operational headquarters in Tampa, Florida, as well as in Cyprus for several weeks to develop the safest and most effective maritime route.

Last week, the killing of the seven aid workers, including three British nationals, in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, stirred global outrage and led to the dismissal of two Israeli military officers.

Britain said it would continue to call for "reform of deconfliction mechanisms", along with assurances that guaranteed the safety and security of aid workers.

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