South Korea Begins Taliban Hostage Talks

Hostages said to be safe while negotiations continue
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Aug 10, 2007 5:01 PM CDT
Relatives of South Koreans kidnapped in Afghanistan weep during a press conference, asking for help of the safe return of the kidnapped South Koreans in Afghanistan in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A South Korean team began face-to-face negotiations with the Taliban today, hoping to secure the lives of 21 Korean aid workers abducted last month. The meeting is taking place in an Afghan government-controlled zone where the Taliban has been guaranteed temporary safe passage. Seoul has already cautioned that it doesn't have the power to release any Taliban prisoners, Reuters reports.

The Afghan government also said it won't agree to a prisoner swap, though the use of force as a last resort hasn't been ruled out. Two of the Korean volunteers have already been executed, but Taliban spokesmen say the rest are safe for the short term: "As long as the talks continue, there will be no problem for the hostages."