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UN efforts start to free kidnapped Israeli soldiers

Written by: Staff
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ABU DHABI, Sep 10 (Reuters) The United Nations has started work to try to secure the release of two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Lebanese guerrilla group Hizbollah in July, a senior U N official said today.

Deputy U N Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown told Reuters in Abu Dhabi a ''facilitator'' had been appointed to work for the release of the soldiers, whose kidnapping in a cross-border raid set off a 34-day war.

''I don't want to go into details, but it has begun,'' Brown said when asked about the U N efforts.

''A facilitator, as we would like to call him, has been appointed and is working (with both sides),'' he added.

Last week, U N Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Israel and Hizbollah has both agreed to his appointment of an envoy to work on freeing the soldiers. Lebanon has said the men would not be released unless Israel was prepared to discuss a prisoner swap.

REUTERS DKA BS1217

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