Taliban hostage talks `successful`

The Taliban is due to release 19 South Korean hostages it has been holding for more than a month in Afghanistan, South Korea`s presidential spokesman said.

    Relatives of the hostages in South Korea celebrated after receiving the news of the pending release [AFP]

     

    South Korea has always timetabled its troop withdrawal for this year.

    But, Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera`s correspondent in Kabul, said: "The hostages will be released, but the conditions are not as clear cut as that."

     

    A release could be within hours or days, he said.

     

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    The Korean side said it was initially unable to meet the kidnappers` chief demand to release Taliban prisoners held by the Afghan government in exchange for the hostages, most of them women.

     

    Fisher said: "Also around the negotiating table, as well as the Taliban and the South Koreans, were two Indonesians acting as brokers, who could have been crucial in the release of the hostages."

     
    The meeting marked the fourth time the two sides have met over the fate of the volunteers who were abducted as they travelled by bus from Kabul to Kandahar on July 19.
     
    Two male hostages were killed in late July and two women were released earlier this month.

     

    Another 14 women and five men are still being held.

     

    The Taliban has threatened to kill more hostages unless Afghan authorities agree to release jailed fighters in exchange.

     

    Scheduled withdrawal

     

    Seoul has said it would pull out its 200 troops from Afghanistan, mostly engineers and medical workers, by the end of the year as scheduled.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera English


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