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Gov`t Provides Korean Hostages with Food and Medical Supplies

Gov`t Provides Korean Hostages with Food and Medical Supplies

Posted July. 28, 2007 03:33,   


Negotiations to free 22 Korean hostages held captive by Taliban militants continued on July 27. Talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban, which halted temporarily, resumed, and the special presidential envoy made every effort to free the captives after arriving Afghanistan on the same day.

The negotiation held in Ghazni was continued despite the passing of the 4:30 p.m. (Friday Korean time) deadline, which the insurgents said would not be extended. The Taliban threatened that they would kill hostages one by one unless the Afghan government released Taliban prisoners by the deadline.

Japan’s Kyoto News quoted an Afghan official as saying that negotiations are going on even after the expiration of the deadline. China`s Xinhua news agency also cited a Taliban commander as saying, “All 22 hostages are safe and negotiations are still going on after the deadline.”

However, there are conflicting expectations in Afghanistan about the result of negotiations. Ali Sha Amadjai, police commissioner in Ghazni, said in interviews with AP and AFP, “Everything is going well. We expect positive results will come out.” On the other hand, Afghan officials who are in contact with the Taliban voiced their concerns about the negotiation process. A representative of the Afghan negotiation team complained that the Taliban was being inconsistent over their demands. Another police commissioner of Qarabagh district in Ghazni province also said, “Someone in the Taliban demanded a swap of hostages, another said the women should be freed, and others wanted money.”

Chief presidential secretary for foreign and security affairs Baek Jong-cheon arrived at Kabul on Friday afternoon as the president’s special envoy, met high-ranking officials in the Afghanistan government, and held talks with them for closer cooperation to release the hostages. Presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-seon said, “Secretary Baek plans to meet Afghan officials as a high-level envoy and conduct in-depth and comprehensive negotiations for the release of hostages. The officials include Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Foreign Minister, Interior Minister, and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) officials.” Officials in the government said that the dispatch of secretary Baek showed how determined the government was in resolving the crisis.”

The government now seeks to provide food and medical supplies for the 22 hostages who may be ill due to the protracted captivity. But the delivery was not successful. The body of Rev. Bae Hyeong-gyu, which was transported to a Korean base in Bagram, is expected to arrive in Seoul soon. In the meantime, U.S. TV broadcasting network CBS interviewed one female hostage named Lim Hyeon-ju (32) on Thursday night. At the interview, she begged in tears for help saying, “All of us are sick and in very bad condition. It’s dreadful.”

Lim, who joined the aid mission as a guide and was abducted by the Taliban, pleaded in Korean and the local language, “We are in very difficult straits everyday. We are all pleading for you to help us get out of here as soon as possible. Really, we beg you.”

klimt@donga.com triplets@donga.com