WASHINGTON -- The United States wants a long-term cease-fire secured between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, but will settle for an extension of the current, short-term truce if a larger accord cannot be reached tonight among negotiators in Cairo.

US President Barack Obama spoke to Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu by phone on Wednesday to express that message, urging the Israeli premier to seal a deal that would end the violence, after a month-long war led to extensive destruction in the Gaza Strip.

"What we want is a more sustainable, longer-term ceasefire," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters, "or, absent that, an extension of the current, temporary one."

A "long-term goal" of the United States remains the disarmament of Hamas, but Harf would not detail whether that demand was still part of the Cairo talks, where the US is represented.

The US is also committed to the reconstruction of the strip, Harf added.

"We're starting to have conversations with people, but obviously, that would be further down the road," she said.

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