Taliban to release hostages, South Korea says
The Taliban has agreed to releasethe remaining 19 South Korean hostages, the South Korean government and the Taliban confirmedTuesday.
South Korean presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-sun said the release was "on the condition that South Korea withdraws troops by the end of year and South Korea suspends missionary work in Afghanistan," he said.
Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said South Korean and Taliban delegates at face-to-face talks Tuesday in the central Afghan town of Ghazni had "reached an agreement" to release the captives.
The Taliban has said it will hold a news conference later to explain the deal.
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.
"We welcome the agreement to release 19 South Koreans," said Cheon.
Taliban militants seized 23 South Korean members of a Christian aid group on July 19 travelling by bus from Kabul to Kandahar. They had demandedthe Afghan government and the U.S. military release Taliban prisoners in exchange for the safe return of the South Koreans.
In late July, theyshot and killed two male captives.In mid-August, they released two female hostages.
With files from the Associated Press