Biden says he believes a deal is near to free some hostages in Gaza

White House spokesman later says officials are ‘still working this, hour by hour’

U.S. President Joe Biden greets audience members Monday after pardoning the Thanksgiving turkeys during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.

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President Joe Biden on Monday added to expectations that a deal is close that would result in the release of some hostages in Gaza, as he responded to a reporter’s question at the White House’s annual turkey-pardoning event.

When asked if a hostage deal is near, Biden said, “I believe so” and gestured that his fingers were crossed.

A Washington Post report on Saturday said Israel, the U.S. and Hamas had agreed to a tentative deal that would free dozens of hostages in exchange for a pause in fighting.

Later Monday, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters that officials are “still working this, hour by hour.”

“I do not have an update for you on the hostage deal that we’re trying to negotiate, but as you heard the deputy national security adviser say yesterday, we believe we’re closer than we’ve ever been,” Kirby said.