'Hamas Holding Intensive Negotiations Over Shalit'

Senior Hamas official quoted by Israel Radio as saying negotiators studying remaining issues.

Hamas is conducting intense negotiations with Israel over the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a senior official in the Islamist militant group said in comments published Thursday, according to Israel Radio.

Osama al-Muzaini, who is in charge of the talks for Hamas, was quoted as telling a newspaper run by the group that negotiators were currently studying the remaining issues.

He was further quoted as saying that the German mediator in the negotiations is both objective and serious.

According to the report, al-Muzaini also said that Israel released two Druze security prisoners last week as part of a deal with Hamas for a video of Shalit.

Israel received the video, which showed Shalit looking healthy, at the beginning of the month; it was the first footage of the soldier since he was kidnapped in a 2006 cross-border raid by Gaza militants.

It was initially reported that the video was sent in exchange for Israel's release of 20 Palestinian women prisoners.

Following the release of the video, Shalit's father was quoted as saying that he still he saw no immediate hope that his son would be freed soon.

"For us, it is a step in the right direction, but that doesn't mean that a deal on prisoners is close, there has been no breakthrough," AFP quoted Noam Shalit as saying.