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Taliban agree to release all S. Korean hostages - Yonhap agency

RIA Novosti

28/08/2007 16:08

SEOUL, August 28 (RIA Novosti) - Taliban militants have agreed to release all 19 South Korean hostages being held in Afghanistan, Seoul's Yonhap agency said, citing a spokesman for the South Korean president.

The Taliban held face-to-face talks with South Korean officials in central Afghanistan Tuesday on the fate of the Christian volunteers, who have been held by the insurgents for over a month.

Presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-seon told a news conference: "The agreement was reached on the conditions that South Korea withdraw its troops stationed in Afghanistan by the end of the year, and impose a ban on its Christian missionary activities in the Southwest Asian country."

Cheon said that the timing of the release depended on further negotiations with the Taliban, but that the South Korean government welcomed the agreement.

The Taliban abducted 23 South Koreans on July 19, hi-jacking their bus which was en route from Kabul to Kandahar on a humanitarian mission.

The latest talks were held in offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in central Afghanistan. The ICRC participated in the three previous rounds of negotiations.

Taliban militants earlier killed two male hostages and threatened to execute others, demanding that South Korea pull its military contingent out of Afghanistan and that the Afghan government release imprisoned Taliban fighters in exchange for Korean hostages.

After the last round of negotiations with South Korea on August 12, the Taliban released two female hostages.

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