'Palestinian envoy says Shalit deal soon to be finalized'

Ambassador to Russia says deal to release kidnapped IDF soldier "close to completion"; Hamas military official Jabri reportedly in Cairo for talks.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
June 3, 2011 05:27
1 minute read.
Gilad Schalit

Gilad Schalit 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Fayyad Mustafa said that a deal to release kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit will soon be finalized, according to a report by Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

"The negotiations between Israel and Hamas, ongoing in Cairo with Egyptian mediation, are close to completion," Mustafa said, without providing further details.

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Commander of Hamas's military wing in the Gaza Strip Ahmed Jabri arrived in Cairo to discuss the release of Schalit with senior Egyptian officials, Al-Hayat reported.

Other senior Hamas military officials have been in Cairo for the past days discussing the release of the IDF soldier, the report said.

According to Palestinian sources, Defense Ministry Diplomatic-Security Bureau Amos Gilad was also in Cairo participating in discussions, Army Radio reported.

Earlier Thursday, the Prime Minister's Office denied Egyptian reports that a deal for Schalit's release was imminent.

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"Negotiations on Gilad Schalit are continuous and intensive, but there is no breakthrough in the matter," the Prime Minister's Office tweeted.

Former Egyptian ambassador to Israel Muhammad Bassiouni was quoted in Egyptian paper Al Masry Al Youm on Thursday as saying that an agreement to release Schalit could be reached within hours.

However, Bassiouni denied the report in an interview with Israel Radio in Arabic. He added that there are still major problems that were preventing the deal from coming to fruition, but Egypt is making major efforts to solve them.

Hamas also denied the report, Israel Radio reported.

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