Tags: cairo | shalit | free

Talks Underway to Free Long-Held Israeli Soldier

Friday, 13 Mar 2009 11:07 AM

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JERUSALEM — An Israeli negotiator on Friday briefed caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about talks in Cairo to free an Israeli soldier captured by Gaza militants nearly three years ago, public radio reported.

Ofer Dekel met Olmert after returning from three days of talks in Egypt with intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and other senior officials. Egypt is mediating the negotiations.

Olmert will also brief prime minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu about Dekel's contacts.

The premier does not intend to immediately call together his security cabinet which would need to approve a release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, who was captured in June 2006, the radio said.

It also said Dekel will probably head back to Cairo in the next few days.

Meanwhile, several hundred people gathered outside the premier's residence to protest against the lack of visible progress in efforts to get Shalit released.

The Islamist Hamas group now ruling the Gaza Strip wants the release of several hundred Palestinians held in Israeli jails in exchange for letting Shalit go.

© 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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