Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange is a positive step, Ban says

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefs press in Bern, Switzerland

17 October 2011 – The recent announcement by Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas to exchange prisoners is a welcome step that should generate positive momentum for ongoing efforts to resolve the Middle East conflict, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

Israel and Hamas announced last week that they had agreed that Hamas would release the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive since June 2006, and Israel would release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Media reports indicate that the exchange could begin this week.

Addressing journalists in Bern, Switzerland, where he is on an official visit, Mr. Ban described the announcement as “very welcome. And I sincerely hope that this will give some positive momentum for their relationship for peace and security. And I am going to continue to work towards that direction.”

Mr. Ban spoke to the press after a meeting with Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey, and is travelling to Geneva for the second leg of his visit to the European country.


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