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Government: “No Agreement Yet for Release of Hostages”

Government: “No Agreement Yet for Release of Hostages”

Posted August. 27, 2007 07:26,   


The Afghanistan Islamic Press (AIP) reported on August 25 that 19 South Korean hostages in Afghanistan will soon be released. However, the government denied the report.

The AIP argued that the report was from a credible source and said, “The Taliban and the South Koran government made an agreement to release the 19 hostages under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, and Korean and Saudi officials will announce the agreement on August 26 in Gazni.”

The AIP added, “According to the agreement, South Korean will withdraw its army within weeks and Christian missionaries in Afghanistan will also go back to Korea in exchange for the release of the hostages.”

However, a Korean government official said on August 26 that, “There is no agreement for a release, though we are trying to keep in touch with the Taliban and to have the hostages released through various channels.”

There was no official announcement regarding the hostage release.

The Taliban commander for Gazni, Mula Sabirdo, said, “There has been no decision yet like the AIP reported,” in a telephone interview with Dong-A’s local correspondent reporter Aminula Khan (assumed name).

Spokesman for Taliban Kari Yujef Amdi also denied the report and said in a telephone interview with AFP, “The situation is still the same and we are still talking to Korea by phone.”

Family members of the hostages who were relieved by AIP report seemed disappointed. However, about 20 family members gathering at an office for families of the hostages in Bundang, Gyeonggi-do and watching hostage related reports together said the report was “a positive sign that the negotiations are going well.”

Meanwhile, Abdula Jan, Taliban commander for Gazni, said on August 25 in a telephone interview that, “I heard that the Taliban Leader Committee will soon decide about the Korean hostages and release an official announcement.”

The Asahi Shimbun reported in its Internet edition on August 26 that according to an Afghanistan official who participated in the negotiations, the Taliban demanded $100,000 for a hostage, and Asahi added, “The Taliban might be leaning toward demanding money for the abductees.”

Song Min-soon, Foreign Affairs and Trade minister, who is visiting the Middle East, handed an autographed letter from president Roh to Saudi Arabia’s king Abdula Bin Abdul Aziz on August 26.

In the letter, president Roh reportedly asked for the Saudis’ active cooperation to solve the situation in Afghanistan.