The leader of Hezbollah has said that he would not have ordered the capture of two Israeli soldiers had he known that it would trigger such a war.
Hezbollah fighters killed three Israeli soldiers and seized two more in a cross-border raid on July 12, provoking a fierce Israeli response resulting in 34 days of fierce fighting in
"We did not think, even one per cent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not," Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with
Nasrallah also said "contacts" for negotiations on a prisoner swap between
"The Israelis have acknowledged that this [issue] is headed for negotiations and a [prisoners] exchange," he said. "Contacts recently began for negotiations."
He said that
He did not specify in which capacity
Nasrallah said Nabih Berri, the Lebanese parliament speaker, was in charge of the negotiations.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has said
However, an Israeli official said on Sunday: "There are no negotiations over the exchange of prisoners."
Massimo D'Alema, the Italian foreign minister, said on August 24 that he did not know about any "secret" talks to free the captives.
But the head of
The senator told Reuters on Sunday that he expected the talks to begin this week. He said the Israeli hostages were "still alive, fortunately", but declined to discuss their condition.
The Hezbollah leader also said that UN troops preparing to deploy in southern
"We have no problem with Unifil [UN Interim Force in
His comments came on the eve of a visit to
Nasrallah said he would welcome a meeting with the UN secretary-general and that contacts had been made towards that end, but he said that nothing had been finalized for security reasons.
No second round
Nasrallah told New TV that he did not believe the Jewish state was preparing for a second round of conflict.
"If the Israelis intended a second round, then they should reinforce their positions and presence (in south
"Their displaced people are going back and they have started to rebuild the north. Someone who acts like that doesn't seem to be going to war. We are not heading to a second round."
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah