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Annan To Mediate Between Israel, Hizballah

Annan (left) with Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Sallukh in Beirut on August 28 (AFP) September 4, 2006 -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says Israel and Lebanon's Hizballah have agreed to indirect talks on the release of two captured Israeli soldiers.

Annan told a press conference in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, today that both sides had agreed for him to negotiate between them on the issue.

Annan has said he will appoint a mediator who will operate secretly. He did not comment on whether the mediation effort would center on proposals for prisoner swaps.

Israel has said the capture of its two soldiers was the reason for its 34 days of ground, air, and sea assault on Lebanon.

Hizballah has said it will only free the two Israelis as part of a swap for prisoners held by Israel.

(compiled from agency reports)