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Captured Israeli soldiers in 'good health:' Lebanon FM july.23.2006

 

BEIRUT  - Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Sallukh has said that the two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah were "in good health" and called on the United Nations or any other third party to help start negotiations for a prisoner exchange. "The Israeli soldiers are in good health and in a safe place," Sallukh, who is close to the Lebanese Shiite militant Hezbollah, told reporters Sunday. Sallukh called on "the United Nations or any third friendly party to engage in discussions for a prisoners' exchange." "Germany has played an important and prominent role between Lebanon and    Israel in the past, and it can play a similar role now," he said after meeting Peter Witteg, chief of international affairs at the German foreign ministry. In January 2004, Israel released about 400 Lebanese and Arab prisoners while Hezbollah returned a reserve Israeli colonel and the bodies of three soldiers under a German-brokered agreement. Sallukh however said his talks with Witteg did not cover the issue of the two soldiers whose capture by Hezbollah on July 12 triggered a massive Israeli offensive. He denounced Israel's "aggressive war" on Lebanon, saying: "Let them cease fire and then there will be a prisoner exchange," Sallukh said. Hezbollah has demanded the release of Arab prisoners held in Israeli jails in return for the two servicemen