Schalit deal: Mashaal meets with Egyptian intel chief

Hamas leader is in Cairo while reports circulate that Palestinian, Israeli delegations are conducting indirect talks to complete prisoner-swap deal.

August 17, 2011 11:32
1 minute read.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal 311 Reu. (photo credit: Khaled Al Hariri / Reuters)


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Hamas' political leader Khaled Mashaal was set to meet Wednesday with Egyptian Intelligence chief Murad Muwafi, Israel Radio reported.

The two were expected to discuss a prisoner exchange deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, Israel Radio reported the Egyptian paper Al Hayat as saying.

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'Israel willing to 'pay the price' for freeing Schalit'
Hamas optimistic over exchange deal for Schalit

In a rare occurrence, Defense Minister Ehud Barak confirmed Tuesday there was a kernel of truth to the rumors of renewed talks in Egypt for the release of captive soldier Gilad Schalit, as exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal arrived in Cairo from Syria.

Israeli media further speculated Israel has reduced the number of security prisoners to be exiled from the area after their release.

“I don’t want to say anything [about Schalit] because I don’t think it helps,” Barak said in an interview with Tel Aviv Nonstop Radio on Tuesday.

But when asked specifically about Mashaal’s arrival in Cairo and increased Israeli flexibility in the deal, Barak said, “There is a grain of truth in the rumors.”

“These reports are part of the process but I prefer not to speak [about it],” he said.

The defense minister said he believes there were serious talks with Hamas “twice in the past five years, but they weren’t successful.”

In past talks Hamas demanded the release of 1,000 prisoners, including 450 that it named.

The list includes prisoners responsible for terror attacks against Israel.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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