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Central & South Asia
Korean officials to meet Taliban
The meeting comes after days of stalled talks on the safe release of 21 hostages.
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2007 13:41 GMT
Taliban says it will not kill any more of the hostages before the face-to-face meeting with officials [AFP]

South Korean officials in Afghanistan have fixed a meeting with the Taliban, aimed at securing the release of 21 hostages held by the group.
 
"We know that the South Korean delegation that has been in Afghanistan will meet face-to-face with the Taliban within just a few hours," Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan said on Friday.
The Taliban says it will not kill any more of the hostages before a face-to-face meeting is held with South Korean delegates.
 
"Until we sit for face-to-face negotiations with the Koreans, we have no plans to kill any Korean hostages," Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said.

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Chan said the meeting comes after days of stalled negotiations on the safe release of the hostages.

"Both sides have mutually guaranteed safety – [the meeting will be held] in an undisclosed location," she says.

The 23 South Koreans, who were working as health aid volunteers, were abducted on July 19 in the Qarabagh district of Ghazni province as they travelled by bus from Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar.
 
Two male hostages have been executed by the Taliban. Sixteen of the captives are women.

Aid pullout

South Korea's government has called for its aid organisations to leave Afghanistan by the end of the month, citing safety reasons, a South Korean embassy official said on condition of anonymity.

The measure comes after the government banned its citizens from traveling to Afghanistan last month.

South Korean authorities will decide whether they can return to the country after "the situation settles down," the official added.

Ahmadi said the departure of South Korean aid workers would move forward negotiations with the Taliban.

"The pulling out of Korean aid workers will have an effect on our negotiation process because pulling out of Koreans from Afghanistan is part of our demand. It will have a positive effect," he said.

Cha Sung-min, a spokesman for the hostages' families in South Korea, said the mothers of several female hostages will travel to Dubai next week to seek help from the Arab world.

"The reason why we are sending women, especially mothers, to Dubai is that Islamic culture has more sympathy for women," he said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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