Headline News


No deal yet on Afghan hostage talks venue: Taliban


Source: | 08-06-2007 09:58

A woman holds a mask during a candle-light vigil demanding negotiations between the U.S. government and the Taliban for the safe return of South Korean hostages in Afghanistan, in Seoul, August 4, 2007. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

Taliban insurgents say no agreement has been reached on where to hold direct talks with South Korean diplomats who are seeking the release of the 21 hostages.

Meanwhile, the Afghan government has strengthened security in Ghazni province where the 23 South Koreans were kidnapped by the Taliban.

A South Korean delegation is in Ghazni province, southwest of Kabul, seeking face-to-face talks with the kidnappers.

A Taliban spokesman said by telephone that discussions were ongoing to decide on a venue for talks but that an agreement had yet to be reached.

Qari Mohammad Yousuf, Taliban spokesman, by phone, said, "We offered the Koreans two choices: either to come to our area for talks we are ready to negotiate with them without any conditions, or if they are not ready to come to our area they can choose Kabul or some other place outside Afghanistan for negotiations. We are ready to come but we want the UN to guarantee our safety. So far we have not heard from the Koreans or the UN about the venue for the talks."

Meanwhile in Ghazni, security is tight. Afghan police put up more checkpoints around the city to keep a watch over vehicles as well as people.

Ahmad Gull, senior Afghan police officer, said, "We have increased the number of checkpoints around the city and are frisking more people and checking more cars in order to stop suicide bombers from entering the city."

Ghazni residents are wary of violence.

Azizullah Ghazni resident, said, "The hostage-taking is embarrassing news for all Afghans not only the people of Ghazni. We hate fighting, we are tired of war. I feel sorry about it."

The Taliban kidnapped 23 South Koreans on July 19th. The militants have killed two of them accusing the Afghan government of not negotiating in good faith. They have repeatedly threatened to kill the rest of the hostages if demands to release rebel prisoners are not met.


Editor:Du Xiaodan