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Afghan Elders Join in Talks for Release of South Korean Hostages

  • VOA News

A team of Afghan mediators consisting of government lawmakers and tribal elders is holding negotiations in Afghanistan's Ghazni province for the release of 22 South Koreans kidnapped by the Taleban 10 days ago.

South Korean special envoy Baek Jong-chun is also expected to hold talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday in Kabul to aid in the efforts.

A Taleban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi said earlier the hostages were still alive, but many were in poor health.

Negotiators say they are struggling with conflicting demands made by the kidnappers, including the release of several Taleban prisoners, withdrawal of South Korean troops from the country and money from South Korea.

The kidnappers shot and killed the 42-year-old leader of the South Korean Christian aid group earlier this week.

On Thursday, a woman identified as female hostage Lim Hyun-joo made a phone call to reporters, pleading for help in resolving the situation.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun canceled his upcoming summer vacation to concentrate on the crisis.

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