Turkey welcomes Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap deal

Turkey welcomes Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap deal

ANKARA- Agence France-Presse
Turkey welcomes Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap deal

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. AP photo

Turkey welcomed a deal today between Israel and Hamas in which a Franco-Israeli soldier, held for five years, is to be exchanged for more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners.

"We are happy," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said, of the deal that will see the Palestinian militant group free Gilad Shalit, who they have held since 2006.

"The agreement that had been concluded is a good agreement," he said.

"It is a positive development that will lower pressure in the Middle East," he added.

Turkey was ready to contribute to "any peaceful effort" that would allow people kept from their loved ones to find their families - whether it be Shalit or the Palestinian prisoners, he said.

Turkey had in the past had direct and indirect contact with both Israel and Hamas in a bid to free Shalit, said Davutoğlu.

Khaled Meshaal, Hamas' exiled political chief, had phoned him to brief him on the details of the agreement, he said.

Meshaal announced from Damascus on Tuesday that Israel would free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, 27 of them women, in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit.

Shalit was captured in a deadly cross-border raid on June 25, 2006 by militants from three Gaza-based groups including Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees and a Salafi group called the Army of Islam