Annan to mediate on captured soldiers

Kofi Annan has said Lebanon and Israel have accepted his offer to mediate over the release of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in July.

    Annan said he would appoint a secret negotiator

    The UN secretary-general

    told a news conference in Saudi Arabia on Monday: "The two sides have accepted the effort of the secretary-general to help solve this problem.

    "I will appoint a person to work secretly with the two sides ... I will not announce his name today or tomorrow."
       
    The release of two Israeli soldiers, whose capture by Hezbollah in a cross-border raid on July 12 led to a 34-day war, is at the centre of a UN resolution for a permanent ceasefire on the Lebanon-Israel border.
       
    Hezbollah wants to exchange the soldiers for Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails. Both Hezbollah and Israel have been involved in prisoner exchanges in the past.
       
    Annan said: "the only [thing] I insisted on is that if I am going to use my good offices, then my mediator should be the only mediator.

    "If [others] get involved, we will pull out because you would get wires crossed."

    Word of the mediation mission came as Annan met Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah in the Red Sea port of Jedda, the latest stop in his 11-day tour of the Middle, with the intention of getting all sides to implement and support the resolution.

    'No mediation'

    Israel's official position remains that it will not enter into any negotiations to free the soldiers, Mark Regev, the Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, said.

    An Israeli government official said: "A mediator is not needed.

    "The UN resolution determines that soldiers will be released unconditionally. The UN secretary-general will assist and not mediate."

    However, a top Israeli political source said last week that Israel would be willing to discuss freeing Lebanese prisoners for the soldiers if negotiations were conducted through the Lebanese government and not with Hezbollah.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Why America's Russia hysteria is dangerous

    Why America's Russia hysteria is dangerous

    The US exaggerating and obsessing about foreign threats seems quite similar to what is happening in Russia.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months