Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Roh gov't praised for dedicated diplomacy in hostage release

from Korean Overseas Information Service (KOIS)

A dramatic agreement on the release of 19 Korean aid workers held captive in Afghanistan is portrayed as something of a diplomatic coup by the Korean government, with President Roh Moo-hyun and his Cabinet ministers ... Despite lukewarm response from Bush and Karzai regarding the Korean hostage ordeal, Seoul officials and diplomats kept up efforts to persuade Washington to cooperate in the hostage release. Last Friday, Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon embarked on an eight-day tour of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- the three Middle Eastern countries believed to maintain strong relations with the Taliban. "The Korean negotiators faithfully contacted the Taliban captors and gave a sufficient explanation that swapping Korean hostages for Taliban prisoners, a key demand from the Taliban, is not within the authority of the Korean government. That strategy seems to have worked," Cheon said, announcing the hostage release agreement.

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