Hamas must immediately and unconditionally release abducted Israel Defense Solder Gilad Shalit, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said on Wednesday, following a New York meeting with Shalit's father, Noam Shalit.
In a statement following Rice's meeting with Shalit's father, the U.S. UN envoy said she "expressed to Mr. Shalit the solidarity of the United States with him and his family, and I reiterated our strongest condemnation of his sons detention. "
"As I have said repeatedly in the UN Security Council, Hamas must immediately and unconditionally release Gilad Shalit," Rice added.
Earlier in her statement, the U.S. official said she was "honored to meet with Noam Shalit today, 1,900 days after his son, Gilad, was taken captive," adding that during that "period, Hamas has held Gilad hostage and without access by the International Committee of the Red Cross, in violation of international humanitarian standards and basic decency."
Noam Shalit's meeting with the U.S. UN envoy came just over a week after Hamas reports clamed that a senior Hamas delegation headed by politburo chief Khaled Meshal, was to in Cairo, adding that the delegation was expected to hold talks over a deal to release Gilad Shalit.
Other Hamas sources said Meshal was going to Cairo to discuss the broader spectrum of issues between Egypt and the Islamist Palestinian organizations.
Several weeks earlier, another round of talks on the Shalit deal came to an end in Cairo - with no progress reported at their end. The Israeli negotiator, David Meidan, and his team held indirect talks with Hamas negotiators headed by the commander of its military wing, Ahmed al-Ja'abari.
Senior Egyptian sources told Haaretz that during that latest round of talks, in which Meshal also participated, Israel showed willingness to lower the number of Palestinian prisoners whose expulsion from the West Bank it intended to demand as part of the deal.
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