GAZA, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Hamas on Tuesday denied
that it foiled indirect talks with Israel which aimed at freeing an Israeli
soldier for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.
The Egyptian-sponsored talks were about to achieve a
breakthrough in securing the release of Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit, who has
been held hostage by Hamas since 2006, but the outgoing Israeli premier Ehud
Olmert accused Hamas of hardening its demands and conditions in the last minute.
Olmert's claims "are untrue lies," said Khalil Abu
Laila, chief of Hamas' foreign relations. "Hamas' stance did not change since
the first moment of capturing the Zionist soldier," he told reporters in Gaza.
"Through these statements, the Zionist entity tries
to gain more time and put more pressure on Hamas in a bid to get concessions
from Hamas," Abu Laila added.
Abu Laila said the indirect negotiations are still
going on and that things will be clearer after the Israeli cabinet ends its
meeting later on Tuesday.
Hamas demands Israel to free more than 1,000
prisoners and insists on selecting the names of the first 450 Palestinians that
Israel would release in exchange for Shalit. Among the 450 prisoners are some
who are jailed for being involved in planning attacks that killed tens of