THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

2. Korea-Taliban Talks

Release innocent hostages who are no part of any conflict or any solution. Deal with the relevant parties only. What the Taliban is doing only increases world opinion against them.The Afghan government remains stern against making a tit-for-tat trade with the insurgents since releasing five prisoners in exchange for an Italian journalist prompted harsh international criticism in March. South Korea and the United States said a military rescue operation was not an option at the moment but that Washington yesterday left open the "potential" of all possibilities...

The group of South Koreans was kidnapped in Ghazni province on July 19.

South Korean and Afghan officials yesterday searched for a suitable place to hold face-to-face talks with the Taliban hostage takers, a news report said.

The Taliban have agreed to meet Kang Sung-zu, South Korea's ambassador to Afghanistan, claiming they can no longer talk to the "insincere" Afghan negotiators.

There is time pressure on the negotiators because two of the female hostages are seriously ill and could die.

The Taliban have demanded the release of at least eight prisoners in exchange for the South Koreans.

It is an established policy of democratic nations that a government only negotiates with a government.

The crisis has entered the third week since the 23 South Korean church volunteers were taken by the Taliban from a bus between Kabul and Kandahar on July 19. Two male members of the group, which included 16 women and 7 men, have been killed.

Purported Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed late Thursday that the group has been "assured" by South Korean officials that the imprisoned Taliban fighters would be released.

U.S. President George W. Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are set to hold summit talks on Saturday. The South Korean abduction will be one of the main topics under discussion, sources said.

Afghan officials, in the meantime, said the venue for the face-to-face meeting between South Korea's ambassador and the Taliban has not yet been agreed.

"The Koreans told the Taliban to come to the PRT, and the Taliban told the Koreans to come to their base," Pathan was quoted as telling the Associated Press after the news conference - by Lee Joo-hee, The Korea Herald.