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Hamas, Israel Resume Talks on Prisoner Exchange


Hamas officials say they have resumed indirect negotiations with Israel on exchanging a captured Israeli soldier for Palestinian prisoners.

Hamas official Ali Barakeh said Thursday a delegation from the Palestinian militant group is in Cairo to pursue a deal. Egyptian officials said an Egyptian envoy is also in Israel for talks with Israeli officials.

The fate of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has become central to Egyptian efforts to mediate a long-term cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.

Hamas gunmen captured Shalit nearly three years ago during a cross-border raid.

Israel wants Shalit released as a condition for a long-term cease-fire agreement with Hamas in Gaza. Hamas is demanding, in exchange, that Israel free at least a thousand Palestinian prisoners, including militants responsible for deadly bombings.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he hopes to secure Shalit's release before the new Israeli government takes office next week.

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

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