News / Middle East

World Leaders Welcome Israel-Hamas Prisoner Swap

Members of the Roman Jewish community wave Israeli flags as they celebrate the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, at Rome's Capitol Hill, October 18, 2011.
Members of the Roman Jewish community wave Israeli flags as they celebrate the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, at Rome's Capitol Hill, October 18, 2011.

International leaders hailed Tuesday's prisoner exchange between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Among the reaction:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit's release, telling reporters on a visit to Libya that the Israeli soldier was held for "far too long."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he hopes the prisoner swap will help to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that have been stalled for years.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said France is relieved by the release of Shalit, who also has French nationality.  Sarkozy had been involved in years of diplomatic efforts to secure his freedom.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Ankara made a significant contribution to the prisoner exchange and ensuring Shalit's safety.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Egypt's role in mediating the prisoner exchange as "decisive."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the British people share in the joy and relief felt by Shalit and his family after a "long, cruel and unjustified captivity."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague called on Israel to make a decisive offer to the Palestinians to give peace talks a chance of success.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tehran congratulates the Palestinian nation on its "victory" in the release of Palestinian prisoners. Iran frequently has called for Israel's demise.

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

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