Assad Sarkozy Damascus 224.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has received a letter written by Noam Schalit to his son Gilad and has promised that it will be given to the captured IDF soldier, the Qatari newspaper Al-Rai reported Friday.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave the letter to Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani this week during his visit to Syria and asked the emir to give it to the Hamas chief.
Sarkozy originally wanted Syrian President Bashar Assad to deliver the letter to Mashaal, but, according to the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, the Syrian leader refused, saying he didn't want to be considered a mediator between Israel and Hamas.
The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the Qatari reports.
In addition, As-Safir quoted a French source as saying Thursday that Assad had promised Sarkozy that he would press Mashaal to continue contacts regarding a prisoner swap, but reasserted that the Syrian president "doesn't want to compete with Egypt for the job of mediator on this issue, especially in light of the fact that Hamas chose Egypt as a mediator."
Noam Schalit told the Post Thursday that he had no comment regarding the delivery of the letter, but added that he did have high-level contacts with the French government.
On Wednesday, a senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip said that talks on a prisoner exchange had been frozen.
Nevertheless, a ministerial committee headed by Vice Premier Haim Ramon is due on Sunday to resume discussions on detainees to be traded for Schalit.
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