'Israel Asks Egypt to Renew Shalit Swap Talks'

Senior Hamas official: Egypt and Hamas have been in continuous contact over Shalit negotiations.

A senior Hamas official told a Qatar-based newspaper on Saturday that Israel's National Security Adviser had visited Cairo on Friday and requested that Egypt renew mediation between Israel and Hamas over the release of captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.

Shalit was abducted in June 2006 by Hamas militants from Gaza in a cross-border raid. Hamas and Israel have been negotiating since then for his release, in talks mediated by Germany and Egypt.

Talks have come to a standstill as of late since the German mediator stopped mediation efforts between the two sides after continuous failure to achieve any progress on the issue.

The Qatar-based newspaper, A-Sharq Al-Awsat, reported that National Security Advisor, Uzi Arad, requested Egypt's help in mediation over Shalit, but Egypt has yet to contact Hamas regarding Israel's request.

The senior Hamas official quoted in the report stressed that Hamas and Cairo have been in continuous contact over Shalit negotiations.

The gap between Israel and Hamas remains substantial due to issues surrounding the list of prisoners Israel would release in exchange for Shalit. Israel is demanding that a large number of the prisoners be expelled from the region after they are released.