Video: Peres on Lebanon relationship

updated 11/1/2006 1:06:28 PM ET 2006-11-01T18:06:28

Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Tuesday indirect negotiations between his group and Israel over a prisoner exchange had begun through a U.N.-appointed mediator.

“I would like to assure all those interested in this file that there are serious negotiations that are continuing,” Nasrallah told Hezbollah’s television station in an interview.

“The delegate appointed by the U.N. secretary-general is conducting this mission and is meeting a Hezbollah delegation and also on the other side Israelis concerned with this file.”

It was the first word that indirect talks were under way to secure the release of the prisoners. There was no immediate comment from Israel.

“The negotiations are ongoing and we have reached the stage of exchanging ideas or more accurately exchanging conditions,” the Hezbollah leader said.

Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12. That attack, in which eight Israeli soldiers were killed, sparked a 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah.

About 1,200 Lebanese and 157 Israelis were killed in the fighting.

A U.N. resolution ended the war in mid August. It called for the release of the soldiers and for finding a solution to plight of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan then appointed a secret envoy to follow up the issue.

Nasrallah refused to go into details or speculate how long the negotiations would last but the group was believed to want to exchange the two soldiers for Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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