Israel, Hamas Say Talks on Prisoner Swap not Over

JERUSALEM (AP) - Both Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers say talks
aimed at freeing an Israeli soldier held nearly three years by Palestinian militants are not over, despite last week's public breakdown of Egyptian-mediated contacts.

The soldier has been held by Hamas-linked militants in Gaza since June 2006, and Egypt hosted intensive talks last week aimed at a prisoner exchange.

When the talks ended, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Hamas demands were excessive and indicated he would turn the matter over to his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is expected take office within two weeks.

An Olmert spokesman says the government is trying to reach a deal with Hamas.

The head of Hamas' government in the Gaza Strip also indicates a deal is still possible in an article published Sunday in a Hamas newspaper.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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