ibnlive » World

Aug 02, 2007 at 07:51pm IST

Korean hostages' fate hangs in uncertainty

New Delhi: A Taliban spokesman has said that 21 south Koreans taken hostage by the Taliban are still alive, despite the expiry of another deadline.

The spokesman however said it was possible the hostages would still be killed. Two of the 23 church volunteers have already been killed who were kidnapped last month in Ghazni. The army has warned villagers to evacuate areas near where they suspect the kidnappers could be hiding.

The Taliban is reported to have agreed to meet South Korean diplomats to discuss the fate of 21 hostages they are holding in Afghanistan.

The expected meeting comes after South Korea and the United States ruled out the possibility of military operations to secure the release of South Koreans, a South Korean official said on Thursday.

Mirajuddin Pattan, the governor of Ghazni, told the AFP news agency that "a South Korean diplomatic delegation is to meet the Taliban for face-to-face talks to look for ways and solutions to free the South Korean nationals".

The Taliban said late on Wednesday they had not killed any more of the aid workers after the expiry of a deadline earlier in the day because the chance of direct talks with the South Koreans could open a "new phase of negotiations".