Saniora considering prisoner swap

Official: Israel will negotiate if soldiers handed over to Lebanese gov't.

saniora gestures 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
saniora gestures 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said Thursday that a prisoner swap with Israel was being considered by his government but "nothing has materialized." Fuad Saniora said Lebanon was "continuing the contacts" with Israel about a possible swap in which two Israeli soldiers would be released in exchange for all Lebanese detainees in Israeli prisons. "The matter is being looked over," he told reporters in Stockholm. "There is nothing really that has materialized so this matter is going to be of considerable interest by the Lebanese government." Saniora said Lebanon was interested in seeing the return of all detainees, "in other words the abducted soldiers as well as the Lebanese detainees that have been in Israeli prisons for over 28 years." "I hope the Israeli government will respond to the call of reason so that we can finish with this and everybody will return to his home," he said. Israeli military officials have said Israel is holding 13 Hizbullah prisoners and the bodies of dozens of guerrillas that it could swap for the two captive soldiers. Earlier, a senior Israeli political official said that Israel would agree to conduct negotiations over the release of the soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah, if they were handed over to the Lebanese government. The official told Army Radio that if the talks are conducted with the Beirut leadership the move will not be perceived as a reward for Hizbullah. The proposal will be submitted to Nasralla's associates and the Lebanese government via UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Veteran civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson who are visiting the region. Jackson reiterated his claim on Thursday that the three kidnapped soldiers, captured by Hizbullah and Hamas, were alive.