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Crisis in the Middle East: Diplomatic Efforts Center on Fate of Three Israeli Soldiers in Hands of Hezbollah Guerrillas

Aired October 11, 2000 - 2:11 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Also of concern is the fate of three Israeli soldiers. That takes us to Lebanon, where it's believed they're being held by Hezbollah guerrillas.

CNN's Beirut bureau chief Brent Sadler with that report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRENT SADLER, CNN BEIRUT BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): International efforts to lower regional tensions and reduce violence move to Beirut. European envoy Javier Solana meets Lebanese president Emile Lahoud. Top of their agenda: security along the Lebanese- Israeli border, and the fate of three Israeli soldiers now in the hands of Hezbollah guerrillas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course we have been interested always in prisoners on both sides. And of course I conveyed to the president our concern about the situation of the three. We want very much to see them alive, and we want proof that they are alive.

SADLER: At this stage, though, Hezbollah is unwilling to comply.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We will not give any information easily. Moreover, we haven't revealed their names because we're not sure the names the Israelis have given are the correct ones.

SADLER: Hezbollah's price for setting the Israelis free may be the release of 19 Lebanese, and perhaps scores of other Arab prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Lebanon's government, meanwhile, refuses to send its army to the volatile border area, citing overflights by Israeli warplanes and continuing border violations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not going to keep the army as a protection for the Israeli borders as long as Israel is, in fact, still incurring on Earth as well as in the air a lot of incursions into the integrity and independence of the country.

SADLER (on camera): If not at the center of the Middle East storm, Lebanon is very close to it, now engaged in a whirlwind of diplomatic effort aimed at preventing even wider regional conflict.

Brent Sadler, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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