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US denies plans to release Israeli spy to encourage peace talks

The US administration has not offered to release the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard as part of a deal to extend the stalled peace talks, US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said yesterday.

Refuting claims aired on Israeli radio, Harf said: "There are currently no plans to release Jonathan Pollard as part of any deal involving the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations."

Israeli army radio claimed that the Obama administration offered to release Pollard, who has been detained since 1985, as part of a deal to encourage the Israeli government to release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners and extend the negotiations for another year.

The channel claims the Israeli government has been demanding the release of Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in the US, but Washington has refused. However; the Radio claimed that this time "the US may accept the Israeli demand to avoid international embarrassment and to complete the Palestinian- Israeli framework peace agreement".

A US official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: "Israel raises the issue every now and then when the talks hit an impasse to get the US' attention on the Pollard issue."

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