UN’s Ban sees peace process boost from prisoner swap

Blair: release is "a moment of great joy"; Cameron: "People of Britain share joy felt by Schalit family."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS/ Joshua Lott)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS/ Joshua Lott)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday that he expected the prisoner exchange deal which saw the release of Gilad Schalit to boost prospects for the wider peace process.
“With this release, it will have a far-reaching positive impact to the stalled Middle East peace process,” Ban told Reuters at the end of a three-day trip to Switzerland.
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“I am very encouraged by the prisoner exchange today after many many years of negotiation,” Ban said. “The United Nations has been calling for [an end to] the unacceptable detention of Gilad Schalit and also the release of all Palestinians whose human rights have been abused all the time.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron also welcomed Schalit’s release and said that the people of Britain share the joy felt by the Schalit family.
“I know that people across Britain will share in the joy and relief felt by Gilad Schalit and his family today,” he said. “I can only imagine the heartache of the last five years, and I am full of admiration for the courage and fortitude which Schalit and his family have shown through his long cruel and unjustified captivity.”
Cameron congratulated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and everyone involved for bringing him home safely.
“I hope this prisoner exchange will bring peace a step closer,” Cameron added.
“Britain will continue to stand by Israel in defeating terrorism. We remain strongly committed to the cause of peace in the Middle East – with Israel and a Palestinian state living side-by-side in security. We will continue to work for direct negotiations to achieve that end,” he said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday hailed the release of Gilad Schalit as “a huge relief for France,” Israel Radio reported.
Sarkozy, who campaigned for the IDF soldier’s release, said that Schalit would be invited to travel to France “soon.”
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