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[Editorial] “Pleading Diplomacy” Is Not Enough

Posted July. 31, 2007 03:02,   


Although the government dispatched a presidential special envoy to Afghanistan, there are no signs that the Taliban kidnappers will ever release the 22 Korean hostages. The kidnappers intensified their threats, saying that they would kill some of the hostages unless the Afghanistan government agrees to free several Taliban prisoners until 4:00 p.m. yesterday. The agreement was not reached, and there was news that they decided to kill hostages. It is lamentable situation.

The Taliban is an incomprehensible group for Koreans. They are brutal criminals who kill foreigners who flew all the way there to help Afghanis. As they already killed one of the hostages, their threat would most certainly be “real.” The Taliban is also a smart group who wage highly sophisticated psychological warfare. As the Korean presidential envoy seemed to have failed to make a breakthrough from his meeting with the Afghan president, the terrorist group immediately made the murder threat in order to corner Korea. A series of media interviews of hostages was also cruel mental terror. They were also wicked enough to use the interview as a means to earn money.

The only realistic solution seems to be the exchange of the hostages and Taliban prisoners, although it is against the norms of the civilized world: “Do not succumb to the demand of terrorist groups.” Some argue that such an attitude would cause the vicious cycle of terrorism. But one cannot look away from the possibility of saving innocent hostages’ lives by releasing Taliban prisoners.

It is urgent to persuade the Afghan government. Cheong Wa Dae explained that it was doing its utmost, but that has been ineffective. There is a clear limitation for the Korean government’s “pleading diplomacy” in which it hopes for the goodwill of the Afghan government.

It is emergency situation. People refrained from judging countermeasures by Cheong Wa Dae and the Foreign Ministry to support the government’s efforts. But that doesn’t address the situation. It is time to come up with a new measure to move the Afghan government. Cheong Wa Dae should press the Afghan government, if necessary. It is not an ideal tactic either that the Korean government ruled out use of force. It is high time for the government to make an all-out effort to resolve the situation.