France’s foreign minister arrived in Cairo on Wednesday on an unscheduled stop during a Middle East tour as efforts to secure a truce between Israel and Hamas and the release of hostages in Gaza reach a critical point.

Diplomatic efforts towards securing a ceasefire were intensifying following a renewed push led by Egypt to revive stalled negotiations between Israel and Hamas, Gaza’s ruling Palestinian Islamist group.

“The surprise visit of the minister is in the context of Egypt’s efforts to free hostages and achieve a truce in Gaza,” the source said.

France has three dual-nationals still held hostage by Hamas after the group’s assault on Israel on Oct. 7 and has worked closely with Cairo on providing humanitarian aid and medical assistance to Palestinians in Gaza.

Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne’s trip to Egypt follows stopovers in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

In talks with Egyptian officials, he will assess whether those three hostages, who are not part of the Israeli military, could be on the list of people released and how close a deal actually is, French diplomats said, expressing cautious optimism on a potential truce deal.

Paris also wants to put a French proposal to defuse tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah high on the agenda in case a Gaza truce is agreed, diplomats said.

Sejourne, who met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Tuesday, said in an interview on Tuesday that there was some momentum towards an accord, but that it would only be a first step towards a long-term ceasefire.

He warned that an offensive in southern Gaza City of Rafah would do nothing to help Israel in its war with Hamas.