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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2006, 01:18 GMT
Hezbollah confirms Israel talks
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. File photo
Sheikh Nasrallah said the talks were "moving ahead"
Hezbollah's leader has confirmed that indirect talks with Israel on a prisoner exchange are under way, describing them as "serious".

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said a United Nations mediator had been meeting officials from both sides, but he provided no further details.

Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers in July, and killing of eight others, sparked 34 days of fighting.

A UN-brokered truce ended the conflict, in which more than 1,200 people died.

"They are serious negotiations... this issue is on track. We are moving ahead," Sheikh Nasrallah told Hezbollah's TV station.

Fighting began on 12 July
Ended 14 August
Israeli dead: 116 soldiers, 43 civilians
Lebanese civilian dead: >1,000
Hezbollah dead: unknown

"We have reached a stage of exchanging ideas, proposals or conditions."

He refused to speculate on how long it could take to reach a deal, saying only it depended on "the nature of the negotiations".

Israel has so far made no comment on the issue.

Last week, the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat reported that the negotiations had so far been unsuccessful, the BBC's Kim Ghattas in Beirut says.

Hezbollah guerrillas captured the two Israeli soldiers, reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, in a cross-border raid into Israel on 12 July.

Talk is cheap. We'd like action, namely, the soldiers to be returned alive to Israel
Sophia Rentzing, Jerusalem

The group has offered to exchange the two Israeli soldiers for Arab prisoners in Israel, but Israel has repeatedly refused.

The UN resolution that ended the fighting called for the soldiers' unconditional release.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan then appointed an envoy to follow up the issue.

When Hezbollah captured Israeli soldiers in 2000, it took four years before talks succeeded and the bodies of the soldiers were swapped for some 400 Palestinian and 35 Lebanese prisoners. It's not know how the Israeli soldiers died.

Hezbollah's leader speaks about the prisoner exchange

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