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Copyright 2003 Haaretz
August 28

HEADLINE: Optimism grows as MIA's family meets Red Cross envoy

BYLINE: Yam Yehoshua

The family of one of the Israeli soldiers missing in action in Lebanon yesterday expressed guarded optimism after meeting with the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross' delegation to Israel.

ICRC delegate Francois Bellon met with the family of MIA Benny Avraham for more than an hour at their Petah Tikva home. Bellon stressed, however, that he was not party to the negotiations, being conducted by a German envoy. "Bellon is preparing the ground in case the negotiations end favorably.

He told us it should take days or weeks, not months," Haim Avraham, Benny's father, said afterward. Benny Avraham and two other soldiers were abducted near the Lebanese border in October 2000.

Meanwhile the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported yesterday that the deal being brokered would not include missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad nor four Iranian diplomats reportedly being held by Israel.

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