July 13, 2008 in Nation/World

Hezbollah says airman likely dead


Lebanon’s Hezbollah has told Israel it does not know what happened to an airman missing for more than two decades but it believes he is dead, Israeli officials said Saturday. The report could clear the way for a prisoner swap between the two foes.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert received the report Saturday on the fate of Ron Arad, an airman missing since he was captured alive after his fighter jet went down over Lebanon in 1986.

The report was part of an Israel-Hezbollah deal in which Israel would hand over Samir Kantar, a Lebanese man serving multiple life terms for a 1979 attack in Israel’s north; four Hezbollah prisoners; and dozens of fighters’ bodies.

In return, Israel was to get two soldiers captured by Hezbollah in a 2006 cross-border raid that set off a fierce 34-day war. Olmert has said that he believes the soldiers are dead.

BOGOTA, Colombia

Ecuador opposes renewing ties

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa angrily declined Saturday to follow the example of his ally on the South American left, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, in mending tattered relations with Colombia.

“Our sovereignty has been trampled on, and we have been disrespected,” Correa said during his Saturday radio show in Ecuador’s capital, Quito. He had no interest in restoring normal ties with Colombia, led by conservative President Alvaro Uribe, until there was a government, he said, “worthy of talking to.”

Relations between the neighbors have been strained since Colombia mounted an attack in Ecuadorean territory in March that killed leftist Colombian rebel leader Raul Reyes.

Chavez and Uribe met Friday in Venezuela and, in Chavez’s words, “turned the page” on poor relations.

From wire reports

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