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Report: Carter Presses for Prisoner Exchange Between Israel, Hamas

The father of an Israeli soldier taken captive by Hamas gave Jimmy Carter a letter Friday hoping Carter will be able to deliver the letter to his son and aid in securing his son's release, Israel's Haaretz reported.

Carter met with Noam Shalit, father of Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit, as part of a series of Mideast talks that include meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Shalit told the newspaper that Carter had committed to helping his son's cause.

The younger Shalit, a tank gunner, was seized by militants three years ago and taken across the border into the Gaza Strip. Hamas has not indicated that Shalit is still alive and will not let the International Red Cross visit him.

Israel currently holds nearly 11,000 Palestinian prisoners, including Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for his involvement in suicide attacks in Israel.

Carter said Thursday he hoped to see a prisoner exchange agreement between Hamas and Israel, involving Shalit and Barghouti.

After meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday, Carter told reporters there can't be peace between Israel and Palestinians unless Hamas is directly involved. He also said Hamas and Fatah, the two rival Palestinian factions, must reconcile so they can negotiate effectively with Israel.

After his presidency, Carter continued to pursue Mideast peace through his Carter Center foundation. He drew criticism from the Bush administration for talking to Hamas.

Carter visited Syria ahead of U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

Click here to read the Haaretz report.