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Egyptian Intelligence Chief Visits Israel

Talks focus on regional threats

Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman visited Israel Sunday to meet with top Israeli officials, including Israel's defense minister.

Ehud Barak's office released a statement saying the defense minister's talks with Suleiman focused on regional threats and challenges the two countries face.

Egypt has been trying to broker a prisoner swap deal between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. This visit has fueled speculation that a possible prisoner swap could be imminent.

A deal that emerged last week calls for Israel to release about 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He has been held for more than three years in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials have been determined to secure Shalit's release, but they are reluctant to release Palestinians who were involved in killing Israelis.

Last week, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said the deal is being held up by Israeli stubbornness.

But, he said, ultimately Israel has no choice but to give in and release all the prisoners Hamas has demanded.

Israel has made lopsided prisoner swaps in the past. One Israeli analyst, Dan Schueftan, has said such deals can encourage extremists.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.