Germany may negotiate for release of IDF soldiers

Germany hopes for the release of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hizbullah militants, a senior official said Monday, but stopped short of confirming that Berlin is negotiating for their freedom. Minister Tzipi Livni was in Berlin Monday for talks with German intelligence chief Ernst Uhrlau as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Asked on ZDF television why Livni was meeting Uhrlau, German deputy foreign minister Gernot Erler said the talks would include efforts to free the soldiers, whose capture triggered the recent fighting in Lebanon. "It is well known that Germany has possibilities ... to help free these captured and kidnapped Israeli soldiers," Erler said. "There are also earlier cases and experiences that we can use, and therefore it is sensible that these three partners are available for talks with Mrs. Livni," he said. Asked whether that meant that Germany was already actively mediating for the soldiers' release, Erler said, "There's an old rule that if you can mediate successfully, you don't make details public. "We all hope for a success and therefore shouldn't press for every detail to be made public in advance," he said.