Germany condemned Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid Wednesday as an "irresponsible new escalation" that could set back hopes for peace in the Middle East. Berlin urges the immediate and unconditional release of the two soldiers, whose capture triggered an Israeli assault on southern Lebanon, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner said. "In view of this irresponsible escalation in an already tense situation in the region, the danger exists that any agreed solution in the Middle East could be submerged for a long time," he said. Ploetner said Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in contact with his colleagues in the region. "We appeal to all forces to exert a restraining influence to prevent further escalation," Ploetner said.