Israeli minister wants to meet Hamas leader

A religious Israeli cabinet minister would like to meet the leadership of Palestinian Hamas to ask for the release of a soldier held in Gaza, his spokesman said on Friday.

Israeli minister wants to meet Hamas leader
He said Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai passed the proposal to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who came to Israel this week ahead of a visit to Syria where he was expected to hold talks with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.

Israeli soldiers Gilad Shalit captured in the Gaza Strip in June 2006.

Yishai spokesman Roei Lachmanovich quoted him as telling Carter he "would be happy to meet anyone relevant -- including Meshaal" to appeal for freedom for Shalit as well as two Israeli soldiers seized by Lebanese Hezbollah members in July 2006.

A member of Carter's delegation predicted he would pass on Yishai's message during an unannounced meeting with Meshaal due in Damascus later on Friday. "That's what he (Carter) came here for," the delegation member said, on condition of anonymity.

A spokesman for Carter declined to comment on whether he would meet Meshaal.

Olmert's office had no immediate comment on Yishai's initiative.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Nisan 2008, 13:21