Israeli Foreign Minister Calls for 'Unconditional' Release of Kidnapped Soldiers

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Israel's foreign minister urged nations to press the Lebanese prime minister to work for the release of two soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah, stressing in an interview broadcast Tuesday that their release should be unconditional.

Hezbollah guerrillas killed three Israeli soldiers and seized two more in a cross-border raid July 12, sparking 34 days of fighting that ended Aug. 14. The next of a U.N. resolution that ended the fighting underlined the need for their "unconditional release."

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"The demand in the U.N. Security Council was for an immediate, unconditional release of the soldiers, and those are our expectations too," Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Germany's ZDF television.

"At the moment, we expect from everyone, naturally including Germany, that they turn to Lebanese Prime Minister (Fuad) Saniora and call on him to take responsibility and take care of freeing the kidnapped soldiers," added Livni, who spoke through an interpreter.

Germany has a track record of mediating between Hezbollah and Israel regarding prisoner exchanges.

However, when Livni visited Berlin Monday, her German counterpart denied a report that German officials were already making contacts in an attempt to free the soldiers.

"In the past, Germany has played a very important role in negotiations with Hezbollah, but at the moment what is important is simply to free the soldiers," Livni said.