I’ll believe it when they are all back safe and alive, but here’s the news:
Taliban militants in Afghanistan agreed to release 19 South Korean church volunteers held captive since July 19, a spokesman for the insurgents and the South Korean government said Tuesday.
Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said South Korean and Taliban delegates at face-to-face talks Tuesday in the central town of Ghazni had “reached an agreement” to release the captives.
In Seoul, South Korean presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-sun confirmed a deal was reached.
“We welcome the agreement to release 19 South Koreans,” said Cheon Ho-sun.
No other details on the agreement were immediately available.
The price? No more South Korean Christians in Afghanistan.
“The hostage release agreement was reached after direct talks between Korean and Taliban negotiators from 5:48 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. (Korea Standard Time). The South Korean government welcomes the agreement on the hostage release,” presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-seon said in a press conference.
“The agreement was reached on conditions that South Korea withdraw its troops stationed in Afghanistan by the year’s end and impose a ban on its Christian nationals’ missionary activities in Afghanistan,” Cheon said.
He said the actual timing for the hostage release can’t be confirmed for now, adding it will be subject to further consultations with the Taliban captors.
AllahPundit notes that the Taliban still have five other hostages–a German and four Afghans last month–that they want to trade for jihadis.