Bush, Karzai responsible for fate of Koreans: Taliban

( Reuters ) - Taliban insurgents said Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. President George W. Bush, meeting in Camp David on Monday, must agree to free jailed rebels or be responsible for the deaths of 21 Korean hostages.

The renewed Taliban threat to kill the captives comes as negotiations to free them remained deadlocked with no agreement even on where to hold talks between South Korean diplomats and the kidnappers.

The Taliban have killed two of the hostages and have repeatedly threatened to kill the remaining 18 women and three men unless the Afghan government agrees to free jailed rebels.

"Karzai has gone to America and it is possible he will take a strong decision with Bush to release the Koreans and agree to exchange prisoners because Bush and Karzai are responsible for securing the hostages," Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf told Reuters by telephone from an unknown location.

Asked what the Taliban would do if there is no swap, Yousuf said: "The responsibility will lie with Karzai and Bush."

Afghanistan has refused to release Taliban prisoners, saying that would encourage a kidnapping "industry."

"We will not do anything that will encourage hostage-taking, that will encourage terrorism. But we will do everything else to have them released," Afghan President Hamid Karzai told CNN ahead of his visit to the United States.

Bush and Karzai are to focus on the worsening violence in Afghanistan and the threat from militant hideouts in neighboring Pakistan in talks at the U.S. presidential Camp David retreat.

Afghanistan is suffering its worst period of violence since U.S.-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban in the wake of the September 11 attacks in 2001.

The Taliban campaign of kidnapping, ambush, suicide and roadside bomb attacks is aimed at convincing Afghans that Karzai and his Western backers are unable to provide them security.

South Korea has appealed to the United States and the Afghan officials to negotiate the release.

"Last night they (the Korean diplomats) assured us the Korean president spoke on the phone with America's President Bush to solve the issue and seeking his help," Yousuf said.

South Korea has also proposed holding face-to-face talks with the Taliban as a way of breaking the impasse, but a new apparent deadlock over where to hold the talks has emerged.

Taliban kidnappers have demanded the meeting take place in territory they control or under a United Nations guarantee for their safety if held elsewhere. But after four days of talks on where to hold negotiations, there were few signs of progress.

"Discussions are going on as to where they can meet," said Merajuddin Pattan, the governor of the province of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, where the Koreans were seized on July 20. "We are trying to find a solution. Contacts between the Taliban and the Korean ambassador are going on over the phone," he said.

The Taliban said they were still waiting for the Koreans to reply to their conditions over a venue.

A U.N. spokesman said the international body had not received any request from the Taliban to supervise or guarantee talks.

South Korean officials meanwhile made their first contact with one of the hostages, an official in Seoul said on Monday.

"There was a telephone conversation with one hostage Saturday afternoon," said a South Korean official on condition of anonymity. The official declined to give further details, citing a potential risk to the safety of the hostages in Afghanistan.

The South Korean government is under intense domestic pressure to secure the release of the hostages, but Seoul has told the insurgents there is a limit to what it can do as it has no power to free prisoners in Afghan jails.

A day before the Koreans were seized, Taliban rebels in Wardak province, north of Ghazni, kidnapped two German engineers and five Afghans.

One of the Germans suffered a heart attack and was shot dead and one of the Afghans managed to escape. The rest are being held by the Taliban who are demanding Berlin withdraw its 3,000 troops from Afghanistan. Germany refused to do so.

Kyrgyzstan reports 26 new COVID-19 cases
Kyrgyzstan reports 26 new COVID-19 cases
FAO, WFP to jointly support Kyrgyz rural families to combat COVID-19
FAO, WFP to jointly support Kyrgyz rural families to combat COVID-19
Turkmenistan participates in UNWTO-led discussion on fighting COVID-19
Turkmenistan participates in UNWTO-led discussion on fighting COVID-19
Loading Bars
Latest
6.2-magnitude quake hits Kazakhstan -- local department
Bolsonaro threatens to withdraw Brazil from WHO
Small plane crash in U.S. state of Georgia kills 5
S. Korea reports 51 new virus cases, most in 8 days
Chinese mainland reports no new domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases
Chile reports 122,499 COVID-19 cases with 1,448 deaths
Head of Al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb killed in Mali by French forces: minister
Street near White House renamed ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ — mayor
58 more coronavirus patients die in Moscow in past day — crisis center
Some 41,500 National Guard officers on duty in US amid protests
WHO recommends wider use of face masks to curb COVID-19
Facebook says it found no foreign interference targeting U.S. protests
Trudeau takes a knee at anti-racism protest on Parliament Hill
Trump orders 9,500 US troops to leave Germany
Finland's finance minister steps down over training payments
5.2-magnitude quake jolts eastern Turkey
EU countries agree on coordinated, non-discriminatory lifting of travel ban
Turkey: Daily coronavirus recoveries up with over 1,600
UK COVID-19 deaths top 40,000 as another 357 patients die
ADB eyeing agreement signing on road reconstruction in Kazakhstan
Azerbaijan discloses number of coronavirus tests
Italy's COVID-19 death toll up 85 to 33,774
Tourists from Israel may be among first visitors to Georgia
Agent bank of two more liquidated banks chosen in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan plans to increase Virginia tobacco production
Central Bank of Iran seeks to unfreeze foreign currency sources abroad
Azerbaijan Wine Producers & Exporters Association eyes new markets for export
Kazakhstan's Shymkent to oversee implementation of various agro-industrial projects
Azerbaijan’s Technol plant talks about production plans
Georgia begins construction of Namakhvani HPP cascade
Azerbaijan’s Elektrogas company testing latest models of heating equipment
Industrial parks to appear in Kazakhstan's Almaty
Agrarian Credit & Development Agency talks subsidies issued to Azerbaijani farmers
Turkmenistan develops packers to increase oil field productivity
Construction of Georgian Kutaisi bypass road nearing completion
Embassy: Romania, Georgia enjoy excellent relations
More than half of financial irregularities in Azerbaijan fall on accounting and reporting
Wind power plant construction underway in Kazakhstan's Zhambyl
Azerbaijan extends project on supporting women's entrepreneurship
Polish company installing new systems at Kutaisi int'l airport in Georgia
Azerbaijan eyes exporting textile products to Russia, Arab countries
One more professional participant registered in Azerbaijan's insurance market
Uzbek United Processing Center to improve e-business environment in country
Georgia, Poland discuss resumption of air traffic
Federal Ministry: Germany seeks to further expand its relations with Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani association talks planned volume of hazelnut export
Users of fixed internet doubles in Georgia
Global Environment Facility supports environmental project of Uzbekistan
Azerbaijan detects 338 new COVID-19 cases
WeWork Global to invest $100 million in India business
Azerbaijani Tax Service comments on changes to Tax Code
TAP project’s schedule remains unchanged
Canada gains surprise 289,600 jobs in May, jobless rate hits record
Georgia to open skies to international flights
Turkmenistans Turkmenstandartlary extends tender to buy lab equipment
144 Azerbaijani citizens return from Ankara to Baku via Azerbaijan Airlines' flight (PHOTO)
Turkmenistan's Kaakhkinsky district expands areas for vegetable, fruit crops
Solar plant capacity to be increased in Kazakhstan's Karaganda
Kazakh FlyArystan suspends flights to regional center of West Kazakhstan
Uzbekistan sells state shares in wine cluster of Samarkand region
Georgia discloses amount of funds spent on quarantine space
Uzbekistan may lock co-op with Israeli geotechnical engineering company
Review of microfinance organizations' ratings in Georgia
Azerbaijan’s AccessBank ended 2019 with profit
Germany strengthens cooperation with Uzbekistan
Volume of fuel oil shipment via Turkish ports from Jan. through Apr. 2020 announced
Azerbaijani AccessBank’s liabilities decrease
Uzbekistan to upgrade infrastructure of Fergana region's district
Volume of Turkish mining industry products export declines
Azerbaijan's ministry talks postal services work during quarantine
No progress in latest round of EU-Brexit talks
LVMH backs down on renegotiating Tiffany deal
Azerbaijani MFA: Armenia may face severe consequences of its policy
Azerbaijani Energy Minister to attend OPEC+ Ministerial Meeting
Turnover of electric power surges in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan's textile factory discloses knitwear production capabilities
Spain to open to foreign tourism from July 1
Cargo shipment volume from Ukraine via Turkish ports announced
Google Chrome's share in Azerbaijan's browser market grows
Nine insurance companies’ claims shrink in Azerbaijan
Turkmenistan, Russia discuss co-op within int'l organizations
Turkmenistan assesses environment, following 'day without cars'
France's import of grain, legumes from Turkey down
Coal railway cargo transportation up in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan's AIFC to bring more revenue to state budget by project co-funding
Jewelry export from Turkey to foreign markets downgrades
South Korean Sejin G&E to bring gas-based power production to Uzbekistan
Turkmenistan's Health Ministry to buy medicines via tender
Uzbek-Chinese JV opens tender for procurement of mobile lifting machinery
British luxury carmaker Bentley to cut quarter of workforce
Presidents of Georgia, Albania may open direct flights
Canada interested in cooperation with Uzbekistan
WoodMac expects significant increase in 2021 oil demand
Azerbaijani parliament approves bill on 2019 budget fulfillment in first reading
Turkmenistan strives for saving Caspian Sea resources during COVID-19
Kazakhstan's KAZ Minerals ups funding for copper project in Russia
Volume of jet fuel transshipment through Turkish ports announced
Azerbaijan’s Elektrogas LLC talks manufacturing gas-fired water heaters
Azerbaijan creating its first biosphere reserve
Georgia, Germany, France discuss creating safe travel corridors
All news