UN welcomes Israel-Lebanon exchange, hints at further deal

Other News Materials 16 July 2008 23:36 (UTC +04:00)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday voiced "deep satisfaction" about the swap of prisoners and bodies between Israel and Lebanon, and hinted that another deal could be in the works.

"I believe that these steps will contribute to improving the overall humanitarian situation in the region," Ban said in a statement.

He said he expected "action to be taken soon for the release of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit (by Hezbollah) and Palestinian prisoners (by Israel)."

Shalit is an Israeli soldier captured in a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip by Palestinian militants in June 2006.

Ban thanked the UN mediator, who has not been directly identified by the organization, for facilitating the prisoner swap, which had been a UN Security Council's demand in an effort build confidence and settle the conflicts in the Middle East.

In the Middle East, the UN-appointed German mediator has been named as Gerhard Conrad.

According to sources in the German capital Berlin on Tuesday, a German secret agent contributed to the negotiations that led to the swap, but it was not clear if the agent was one and the same as Conrad.

According to the sources in Berlin, the facilitator, a staffer with the BND, the German foreign intelligence agency, flew a total of 700,000 kilometres shuttling between UN headquarters in New York, Tel Aviv, Beirut and various European capitals, dpa reported.