Hezbollah, Israel set for limited prisoner swap

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BEIRUT, Oct 15 (Reuters) Israel and Hezbollah are set to complete within hours a deal to exchange the remains of an Israeli for a Lebanese prisoner and the bodies of two guerrillas, a Lebanese security source said today.

''As a goodwill gesture, there will be a swap of a prisoner and the bodies of two Hezbollah fighters for the remains of an Israeli who was not a soldier,'' the source said.

Asked when he expected the deal to go through, the source said: ''Within the next few hours.'' He said the exchange would take place at 5 pm (1930 IST) and described the dead man as an Ethiopian immigrant who drowned at sea and who was swept north onto the Lebanese coast several years ago.

Several Israeli soldiers have been missing in Lebanon since the 1980s and they are presumed dead. But there had been no previous report that an Israeli civilian had gone missing.

Hezbollah still holds two Israeli soldiers seized in July 2006.

Their abductions triggered a 34-day war with Israel.

A UN-appointed mediator is working on an exchange deal to get the soldiers and Lebanese and other prisoners released. There has been no word on the condition of the two soldiers and whether they are dead or alive.

REUTERS SKB PM1835

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