US Secretary of State John Kerry will not stay in the Middle East indefinitely trying to broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Gaza and, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

"Gaps remain between the parties, so his focus is on finding a formula that both sides can accept," said the senior US official. "But he isn't here for an indefinite amount of time and in the near future he will determine whether there is a willingness to come to an agreement on a ceasefire."

"Secretary Kerry will stay in Egypt through at least tomorrow morning to continue working on achieving a ceasefire," the US official said, adding he had spoken by telephone in the last 24 hours with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with the foreign ministers of Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Norway, Turkey and Ukraine.

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