Sarkozy - Reuters - 24.6.11
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy addresses a news conference at the end of an European Union leaders summit in Brussels June 24, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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French President Nicholas Sarkozy published a letter addressed to captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit on Sunday, expressing his hope for the soldier’s release in honor of his 25th birthday.

In the letter, Sarkozy expressed solidarity with Shalit, who holds both Israeli and French citizenship, saying that France has “not forgotten” the soldier, reiterated that thousands across the world are determined to see him free, and affirmed his belief that an Egyptian-brokered deal between Israel and Hamas will soon bring his release.

Moreover, Sarkozy tied Shalit’s fate with that of the people of the Middle East.

“In an era in which the Middle East is going through an upheaval in the name of freedom and human dignity, you are being denied that very same freedom”, Sarkozy said.

Shalit was captured on June 25, 2006 during a cross-border raid by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip. Negotiations for his release as part of prisoner swap between Israel and the Palestinian movement have dragged on.