Kouchner: Captured reservists alive

Israel reportedly rejects French foreign minister's message from Hizbullah.

July 15, 2007 21:17
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French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner "understood" that kidnapped reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are alive, he announced Sunday. Kouchner spoke after he met with Hizbullah officials who were participating in a conference for Lebanon's rival parties met in Paris. "I understand that they are indeed alive. I raised the question and was promised that negotiations for their release would continue," he added. The group's representatives, said Kouchner, raised the issue of Lebanese and Palestinian detainees being held in Israeli jails, expressing hope for their release. According to a Channel 2 report which followed the statement, a government official said that Israel rejected the claims, citing Hizbullah representatives present at the conference, who were not members who would have access to such information. Furthermore, if Hizbullah had the desire to transfer the message to Israel, the group would have done so by other means, said the official. On Saturday, French intelligence had warned the Mossad not to try to kidnap or assassinate senior Hizbullah officials who are participating in the conference, Kuwait's Al-Siyassah newspaper reported. According to the report, senior members of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's government contacted associates of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and warned that any such an action on French soil would harm French-Israeli relations.

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