Kouchner: Progress in Schalit talks

Schalits meet Kouchner

lieberman kouchner 248 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
lieberman kouchner 248 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
There has been progress in the efforts to free captured soldier Gilad Schalit, visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters in Tel Aviv Wednesday. Speaking hours after meeting Schalit's parents, Kouchner went on to say that "the German mediation is positive, and we're not interested in doing anything to damage it." Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office on Wednesday refused to respond to recent Arab media reports which claimed there had been progress in negotiations to free Schalit. The prime minister has given his negotiating team "clear instructions to make all efforts to bring Gilad Schalit home safe and sound," the bureau said in a statement. "These efforts continue at all times." Regarding the Arab reports, the Prime Minister's Office said, "As in previous months, we have no intention of responding to foreign media reports on the matter." Earlier Wednesday, the US-based Arabic news network Al-Hurra had reported that a deal for Schalit's release would be underway by next week. Without citing sources, the report said that Schalit would be freed in exchange for "hundreds of prisoners." The report added that the soldier would return to Israel via Egypt. Following Kouchner meeting with Schalit's parents in Jerusalem, the soldier's mother, Aviva, said that she had not received any new information concerning her son. Noam Schalit, the soldier's father, reiterated his wife's comments and told Israel Radio that the family was in constant contact with French authorities who were working on the matter. "It's not over 'til it's over," he was quoted as saying. The IDF soldier, who has been kept captive by Hamas operatives in Gaza since June 2006, holds dual French-Israeli citizenship.