Still no movement in the case of the 21 South Korean Christian hostages being held captive. I doubt this will get anywhere:
Afghan President Hamid Kazai said on Thursday the abduction of Korean women by Taliban guerrillas had no precedent in Afghan history and would bring shame on the nation.
The Taliban seized 23 Korean Christian volunteers, among them 18 women, from a bus in Ghazni province three weeks ago. The group has killed two male hostages and warned it would kill the remaining captives if Karzai did not free jailed Taliban.
Karzai, who came under harsh criticism for releasing Taliban prisoners for the freedom of an Italian journalist in March, has repeatedly said he would not resort to a prisoner swap again.
“Women from another country are being kidnapped in Afghanistan … This would bring historical shame and defamation for this country and this nation,” Karzai said.
“Women are being kidnapped in this soil today under the name of Taliban, Muslims and Afghans … In Afghanistan’s history, never anyone has kidnapped women,” he added.
Karzai made the comments in Kabul during the opening of a grand meeting between Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan on finding ways to tackle the resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda allies.
The Taliban could not be reached immediately for comment.
South Korean officials look ready to bow to the Taliban’s will:
South Korean officials may soon meet face-to-face with Taliban rebels to negotiate the terms of release for 21 South Koreans held hostage in Afghanistan, officials said Thursday.
Abdullah Jan, a purported Taliban commander, was quoted as saying in an interview with a Pakistani daily that the first face-to-face meeting with South Korean officials could take place as early as Thursday.
Sources say the venue of the meeting is likely to be a Taliban-controlled area, as the insurgent group earlier insisted.
A South Korean official refused to confirm an imminent meeting with Taliban militants, but noted the sides may meet when conditions are right.
“The goal is not to hold a meeting, but to make progress when the sides meet,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
The major hurdle, besides finding what officials called a “mutually acceptable venue” for the envisioned meeting, is to narrow the gap between what the kidnappers want and what South Korea can give.
Eugene Cho sums up the situation: “Three weeks = two dead. 21 still in captivity and no progess on the face to face negotiation = lots of pain and confusion.” And via Eugene, one of a series of video pleas from a hostage’s family:
Another video here.