Progress seen in prisoner talks


Israel and Hezbollah are nearing a breakthrough in prisoner-swap negotiations, sources on both sides said.

Reputable news media in Beirut and Jerusalem carried reports Monday that significant progress has been made in Israel’s efforts, through German mediators, to repatriate two soldiers abducted by the Lebanese terrorist group in July 2006.

A breakthrough could be imminent, Hezbollah and Israeli government sources said.

There was no direct comment on the negotiations by either side, but Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, appeared to allude to a swap when he told supporters in a speech Monday that “Samir Kuntar will soon be among you.”

Kuntar, a Lebanese terrorist serving a life jail sentence in Israel, is the most senior of Arab prisoners that Hezbollah wants released in exchange for army reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

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