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German Cabinet Approves Naval Force for Lebanon


Germany's cabinet has voted to send warships to the Mediterranean to lead the naval force patrolling Lebanon's coastline.

Speaking in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel called the decision historic. Alluding to the World War II Holocaust of European Jews, she said Germany has a responsibility for Israel's right to exist.

Germany's parliament is expected to approve the move next week. German sailors will then take over from an interim force responsible for preventing new arms from reaching Hezbollah by sea.

In other news, a senior Israeli official is suggesting that the Jewish state will consider releasing a Lebanese prisoner jailed in Israel since 1979.

Speaking on Israeli radio, Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Samir Kantar, who killed two Israelis in the northern town of Nahariya, could be at the center of an eventual prisoner swap. Israel is demanding the release of two soldiers captured by Hezbollah in early July.

Hezbollah is demanding the release of Kantar, who is serving a life sentence in Israel.

Hezbollah's capture of the two Israeli soldiers in a cross border raid triggered the month-long war between Israel and the Shi'ite militia.

Israel has said it rejects a prisoner swap, but it has exchanged prisoners in the past.

The United Nations says it has appointed a mediator to secure the release of the two Israeli soldiers and that the envoy has already arrived in the Middle East.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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