"Our message is clear. Time is passing. I want to say clearly that Hizb Allah will not bear more procrastination," Hizb Allah's secretary general, Sayyid Hasan Nasr Allah, said on Tuesday.

Nasr Allah's comments are significant because experience shows his threats of action are almost invariably carried out.

The Hizb Allah has been in talks with Israel through German mediators for months over the exchange of three Israeli soldiers presumed dead and a businessman for about 15 Lebanese, hundreds of Palestinians and scores of other Arabs held in Israel.

The organisation in July threatened to seize more Israelis unless there was a breakthrough in stalled talks.

"Our message is clear. Time is passing. I want to say clearly that Hizb Allah will not bear more procrastination"

Sayyid Hasan Nasr Allah
secretary general, Hizb Allah



"More procrastination means that the Israelis, in another way, are saying to us that the operation is over and you must move to other choices," Nasr Allah said.

"Our conditions are clear and final, and our demands are clear and final," he stressed.

Slow progress

Nasr Allah said Hizb Allah, through the German mediators, reached a rough outline of an agreement about a month ago for the swap that included 400 Palestinian prisoners in addition to the Lebanese and other Arabs.

But progress on a final deal had been slow, he said.

The fate of Israeli airman Ron Arad, who was captured in Lebanon in 1986, has apparently been obstructing a final deal.

Hizb Allah denies any knowledge of Arad's whereabouts. Israelis however has been insisting that any deal must include the missing airman.