An official quoted in several Israeli newspapers on Tuesday said Hizb Allah “had very slightly adjusted its demands”, without elaborating.

Israeli Reserve General Ilan Biran, in charge of attempts to secure the release of three Israeli soldiers and a suspected Mossad agent being held since October 2000, visited Germany two weeks ago for talks about the exchanges, reported Israeli television on Monday.

Earlier this month a German intermediary visited Israel and Lebanon, where he met Hizb Allah officials, according to the same report.

Hizb Allah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasr Allah said in remarks published on Monday that negotiations with Israel would begin soon over the prisoner exchange.

“Some contacts have already started and negotiations will begin shortly…We are looking to see through the current mediation to a happy end to this issue,” Nasr Allah told Saudi Arabia’s al-Watan newspaper.

More detainees

The Secretary General of the resistance group, which ousted Israeli occupation troops from south Lebanon in May 2000 following a 22-year-occupation, warned if talks faltered the group would capture more Israeli troops.

Three Israeli soldiers were captured from the occupied Shebaa Farms, although Israel believes the three are dead. Nasr Allah recently refused to confirm whether they were alive.

Hizb Allah also holds a reservist colonel Elhanan Tenenbaum, believed to be a Mossad agent who the group lured to Beirut. Israel denies he is a member of its secret service, insisting he is a businessman.

Israel holds at least 20 Lebanese detainees, many without trial or charge, including senior Hizb Allah leaders Sheikh Abd Karim Obeid and Mustapha Dirani who were captured in 1994.