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Afghanistan: ICRC facilitates direct talks on Korean hostages

12-08-2007 News Release 07/91

Geneva (ICRC) – Since 10 August the Kabul delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been facilitating direct talks in Ghazni, south-west of the capital, between representatives of an armed opposition group holding 21 Korean hostages and a Korean delegation.

At the request of the parties involved and with a view to securing the safe release of the hostages, the ICRC made arrangements for a neutral venue – the provincial headquarters of the Afghan Red Crescent Society in Ghazni – to be made available for the talks. All parties concerned, including those involved in the armed conflict in Afghanistan, had previously agreed to the meeting and given the necessary security guarantees.

" As a humanitarian organization, the ICRC is very concerned about the fate of the hostages. It insists that they not be harmed under any circumstances and that they be unconditionally released as quickly as possible, " said Reto Stocker, head of the ICRC delegation in Kabul. The ICRC urged that all hostages be allowed to write Red Cross messages (brief messages containing family news) to their families.

Although the ICRC is not participating in the negotiations, ICRC expatriate staff have been present in the building during the direct talks. In its capacity as a neutral intermediary, the ICRC stands ready to provide other services as requested by the parties concerned.

In accordance with its mandate under international humanitarian law, the ICRC has been delivering aid and carrying out other humanitarian work in Afghanistan since 1987.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Jean-Pascal Moret, ICRC Kabul, tel +93 70 282 719 or +93 70 276 465  

 Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel +41 22 730 34 43 or +41 79 217 32 24