Israel may agree to Lebanon prisoner swap

July 18, 2006 at 9:57 AM

JERUSALEM, July 18 (UPI) -- Israel's Security minister said Tuesday the country may consider a prisoner exchange with Lebanon to recover two soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah.

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said the swap would not take place until after the completion of Israel's military operation in Lebanon, the Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.

"If one of the ways to bring home the soldiers will be negotiations on the possibility of releasing Lebanese prisoners I think the day will come when we will also have to consider this," Dichter said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he will not negotiate with Hezbollah or Hamas, which is also holding an Israeli soldier prisoner.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Monday after meeting with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa in Damascus that a prisoner exchange would be possible if a cease-fire was implemented, the Post report stated.

"We believe that we should think of an acceptable and fair (deal) to resolve this," Mottaki said. "In fact, there can be a cease-fire followed by a prisoner swap."

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