Israeli president confirms progress in talks over kidnapped soldier
Israeli President Shimon Peres said Sunday negotiations for the release of an abducted Israeli soldier from Hamas have seen "real progress," Xinhua reported.
"There is no doubt that real progress has been made on the issue of Gilad Shalit, but the details must be kept behind the scene," Peres was quoted as saying upon his return from an official visit to Egypt, where the government has been trying to broker a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas.
Peres' remarks came on the heels of some reports that an exchange is to be worked out within days that would see Hamas free Shalit and Israel release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return. One of the predictions is that Shalit would be transferred to Egypt as early as Friday.
Referring to the cause celebre earlier Sunday, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi reaffirmed Israel's commitment to bringing Shalit home, but meanwhile warned that media reports "do not help solve the problem."
Since Shalit was taken away by Hamas-led Palestinian militants more than three years ago, public pressure has been piling upon the Israeli government, yet all the attempts made so far failed to yield any results.
The 23-year-old is now believed to be in good shape and held somewhere in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Late last week, Hamas announced that it had reached an agreement with other armed groups in Gaza to halt rocket fire at Israel in order to avoid Israel's retaliation, in a development adding to the expectation that a deal is in the cards. Enditem