Tuesday, August 28, 2007

South Korean troops to leave Afghanistan in exchange for South Korean missionaries release

By North Asia correspondent Shane McLeod

South Korea has agreed to pull its troups out of Afghanistan and halt its missionary activities in the country as part of a deal to secure the release of 19 Christian missionaries who were kidnapped by the Taliban last month.

The hostages are set to be released after agreement was reached between Taliban leaders and South Korean negotiators.

South Korea has agreed to end Christian missionary activities inside Afghanistan and withdraw its troops from the country by the end of this year.

South Korea says it had already planned to do that.

The 19 hostages were part of a group of 23 South Koreans kidnapped more than five weeks ago in Ghazni province in the south-east of the country.

Two male hostages were killed during the negotiations, in which the kidnappers demanded the release of prisoners from Afghan jails, and two others were released suffering ill health.

An Afghan tribal elder involved in the talks says it is expected the remaining 19 hostages will be released within three or four days.

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