By Simon Lewis and Humeyra Pamuk
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States has made "real progress" in the last few hours in negotiations to secure a safe passage for Americans and other foreigners who wish to depart the Gaza Strip, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Tuesday.
"While I can't make an announcement today, we do think we've made very real progress on this as I said in just the past few hours," Miller told a news briefing.
The United States has been working with Qataris and Egyptians to open the Rafah border crossing into Egypt to allow American citizens inside Gaza to leave after Israel intensified its bombardment of the densely populated coastal enclave.
So far, traffic at Rafah has reopened one way allowing aid trucks to go slowly into Gaza.
"We would hope that any agreement to get any individuals out would also unlock the possibility of American citizens or their families and other foreign nationals coming out," Miller said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking earlier at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, said there were around 400 American citizens and their family members totaling around 1,000 people stuck in Gaza and wanting to get out.
"We're working with various parties to try to facilitate their departure from Gaza. The impediment is simple: It is Hamas," Blinken said, adding that there were another roughly 5,000 foreign nationals who were hoping to get out.
(Reporting by Simon Lewis, Humeyra Pamuk, Daphne Psaledakis and Jasper Ward; Editing by Chris Reese and Howard Goller)