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Family of Missing Airman Arad Asks for New Negotiating Team

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The family of missing Israeli air force navigator Ron Arab urged the government on his 34th birthday Tuesday to call in a new team to negotiate his release with a group in Lebanon believed holding him hostage.

Arad’s wife and other family members met with Defense Minister Moshe Arens to discuss ways to refocus national attention on his plight.

They said a new team might have more success than those who have been conducting quiet negotiations for the last few months without results.

Arens reportedly assured the family that the defense establishment and other negotiators are continuing with their best efforts.

The family held high hopes that Arad would be freed when the remaining U.S. and British hostages held in Lebanon were released late last year. They had been buoyed by the optimistic statements of U.N. officials at the time.

But those proved groundless, and after the Americans and Britons were freed, world attention drifted away from the hostage crisis.

Arad, whose plane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986, is believed to be the only prisoner still alive of seven Israel Defense Force personnel missing in Lebanon since 1982.

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