Gilad Shalit alive, Sarkozy tells father


PARIS (JTA) — The father of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, after speaking with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said he has hope for the release of his son.

Noam Shalit made the remarks Tuesday after being urgently summoned to a meeting with Sarkozy. Shalit told reporters at the steps of the Elysee Palace that the president assured him his son was alive and that the French government was "using every means available" to free him.

For Sarkozy, "this is a personal, strong commitment," Shalit said.

"Today we have hope," he added, without being able to offer details of  negotiations for a possible release or proof that Gilad Shalit is alive. Hamas kidnapped Gilad Shalit in 2006.

Shalit was making his third visit to France related to his son’s kidnapping. The soldier has dual French-Israeli citizenship.

On visits to the Middle East, Sarkozy repeatedly has urged for Gilad Shalit’s release with leaders in the region, such as Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has close ties to Hamas.

"Mr. Shalit is an Israeli soldier, but he is also a French citizen," French senator Philippe Marini said from Damascus on Tuesday, according to the French weekly le Journal du Dimanche. "We strongly insist on that because it is our duty to defend our citizens."


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