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President Hamid Karzai: "Hostage Taking Is Against Islam and Afghan Culture"


President Hamid Karzai met with Baek Jong-chun, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun's Special Envoy, at the Gulkhana Palace on June 29. They discussed efforts to free the 22 South Korean hostages currently held by the Taliban.

Mr Jong-chun conveyed President Moo-hyun's message to President Karzai and thanked him for his efforts to secure the safe release of the South Korean hostages. "We are well aware of the Afghan culture and the difficulties the Afghan government and people are faced with in their fight against terrorism, and will respect their decision to end the hostage crisis," he said.  

President Hamid Karzai denounced the taking of hostages and explained that the abuse of foreign guests, especially women, is against Islam and Afghan culture. “The perpetration of this heinous act on our soil is in total contempt of our Islamic and Afghan values,” he said.

President Hamid Karzai assured Mr Jong-chun that the Afghan government will spare no effort to secure the safe release of South Korean nationals.

On June 29 Afghanistan's national council of clerics released a statement critical of the hostage takers. "Even in the history of Afghanistan, in all its combat and fighting, Afghans respected women, children and elders," the council said. "The killing of women is against Islam, against the Afghan culture, and they shouldn't do it."

CLICK HERE to read the full statement

Local elders and clerics are currently trying to negotiate the release of the South Korean hostages. Ghazni lawmaker Habib Rahman attended the gathering, and is helping to coordinate efforts to release the hostages. "When the elders and clerics go to talk with the Taliban, they will explain once again that taking hostages is not acceptable in Islam and Afghan culture. My message to the Koreans, in particular to the families of these men and women being held by the Taliban, is this: We are optimistic. Don't worry. We are doing our best ... Please be patient. A lot of people are involved today," he said.

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