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Hamas denies progress in talks on captured Israeli soldier


GAZA, June 25 (RIA Novosti) - The radical Islamist movement Hamas denied on Thursday that any progress has been made in talks on the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Regional media reported earlier this week that Israel was close to a deal that will free the soldier, seized by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in June 2006. In exchange, Israel would release over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Israeli officials, however, also denied the information.

"I can say for certain that nothing new has happened in the prisoner swap process. We informed the Egyptian mediator of our point of view on the swap," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told RIA Novosti.

"Israel bears responsibility for Shalit's three-year-long confinement, as well as for the hundreds of Palestinians being kept in Israeli prisons," he said. "This all happens due to the Israeli side's refusal to accept our conditions for a prisoner swap."

Israel and Hamas have so far failed to agree on the number and identities of Palestinian prisoners to be freed under a swap.

On Tuesday Israel released the Hamas speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Abdel Aziz Duwaik.

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