World

Ottawa rebukes South Korea for Taliban hostage deal

Canada disapproves of South Korea's deal with the Taliban to secure a hostage release, Foreign Affairs said late Wednesday.

'We do not negotiate with terrorists,' Bernier says after 12 freed

Canada disapproves of South Korea's deal with the Taliban to secure a hostage release, Foreign Affairs said late Wednesday.

In a carefully crafted response, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier expressed regret over South Korea's handling of the crisis.

"We do not negotiate with terrorists, for any reason," said a statement issued by Bernier's office.

"Such negotiations, even if unsuccessful, only lead to further acts of terrorism."

Under the deal struck Tuesday, Seoul reaffirmed its pledge to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year and to suspend South Korean Christian missionary work there.

Taliban militants on Wednesday released 12 of 19 remaining South Korean Christian aid workers, promising to free the restwithin the next 48 hours.

South Korea has already said it planned to withdraw its troops by the end of the year. Some 200 South Korean soldiers have been deployed in Afghanistan for reconstruction efforts, not combat.

'It shows a loss of control'

The agreement drew criticism because the Afghan government was not involved in the negotiations. Critics also said the deal was dangerous because the negotiations could be interpreted as giving the Taliban enhanced political legitimacy.

"It's almost outrageous that should be going on," said Norine MacDonald, president of Senlis Council, an international think-tank that operates in Afghanistan andthat has criticized aspects of Westernoperations in the country. "It shows a loss of control over parts of Afghanistan."

Taliban militants seized 23 South Korean members of a Christian aid group travelling by bus from Kabul to Kandahar on July 19. They had demanded thatthe Afghan government and the U.S. military release Taliban prisoners in exchange for the safe return of the South Koreans.

In late July, themilitantsshot and killed two male hostages. In mid-August, they released two female hostages.

With files from the Associated Press