Go to contents

Taliban Meeting Venue Still Undecided

Posted August. 06, 2007 03:04,   


Yesterday was the 18th day of the Korean aid worker hostage crisis. A Korean negotiation team was reportedly making efforts behind the scenes to have a direct meeting with the kidnappers but failed to set a venue for the meeting.

A government source said that day, “We believe that it will be hard to proceed with direct negotiations. For now, progress has been stalled.”

The government has reportedly decided to focus on delivering medicine and dispatching medical workers for the health of the hostages to prepare for a potential prolonging of the situation.

Mullah Sabil, the Taliban’s senior commander in Ghazni Province, said yesterday in a telephone interview with Dong-A Ilbo’s local correspondent, “We are talking with the Korean negotiators to have a direct meeting. But there’ nothing decided.” Sabil reportedly repeated his demand for a “security guarantee by the U.N.” Ghazni Governor Mirajudin Pathan said in an indirect telephone interview with Yonhap News on August 4, “As the two parties mistrust each other, we are working on finding a neutral venue for the meeting.”

The Taliban kidnappers had a Korean female hostage talk with AFP again on August 4. She repeated tearfully, “We don’t want to die. We want to go home.” Saying that she is with the other three hostages, she said, “They (kidnappers) always threaten to kill us. I don’t know how long we can hold out.” The AFP reported that her name was “Sing Jo-hin,” but she was not identified since there is no such name on the list of Korean hostages. The news agency later withdrew its report of her name.

The government has not released an official response to the interview, which is interpreted as the government’s will not to be swayed by the Taliban’s intention of pressuring it to accept the demand of an exchange between the hostages and Taliban prisoners.

The Mainichi Shimbun quoted Taliban spokesperson Qari Yousuf Ahmadi yesterday as saying, “Each of the hostages is staying in separate homes which are 500 meters away from each other. They can take a shower.” He also said, “Two female hostages are in a serious condition because of severe stomach disorders. But the others are not in a serious condition.” However, the female hostage who talked to AFT said, “We cannot adapt to the weather. We cannot eat or sleep well. We are all sick.”

The Asahi Shimbun quoted a local source that day as saying that as the hostage standoff is being prolonged, some Taliban members are complaining: “Regardless of whether we murder them all or release them all, we should make the decision quickly.”

Meanwhile, a Korean government official commented on the summit between U.S. President George W. Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai scheduled for August 5 and 6, saying, “We expect it may be hard to expect a detailed discussion on securing the release of the hostages.”