'Greater efforts'

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"These missionaries were warned not to come to Afghanistan as it was a warzone"

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Meanwhile, Kim Gin-A and Kim Kyung-Ja, the two released hostages, are still at Bagram military base north of Kabul, but were expected to be repatriated on Friday.

A foreign ministry official in Seoul said the women were to have medical check-ups at the US base.

The Taliban had abducted 23 South Koreans, all Christian aid workers, including 16 women, on July 19 as they were travelling by bus through southern Afghanistan.

The militants have shot dead two men from the group and threatened to kill more if the Afghan government does not free Taliban prisoners.

The two women were released following four days of direct talks which began on Friday in Ghazni, 140km south of Kabul.

News of the resumption of talks came after Roh Moo-Hyun, South Korea's president, urged increased efforts to release the remaining 19 hostages.

Roh said: "The government has to make greater efforts to have them released. We shouldn't relax until the last moment."

Source: Agencies