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Taliban to Free Two Ailing South Korean Hostages

In Afghanistan, a Taliban spokesman says two South Korean hostages will be released as a "gift" to a South Korean delegation that has been meeting with Taliban leaders in southern Ghazni province.

The Taliban spokesman says the two hostages, both women, are in poor health.

But the spokesman said the Taliban is not backing down on its demand that the Afghan government release as many as 21 militant prisoners. If the militants are not released, the spokesman says, the remaining 19 hostages will not be freed.

The spokesman says the Taliban's talks with the South Korean delegation are continuing. The two sides met face-to-face in the provincial capital Friday.

The 21 hostages, who belong to a South Korean church group, were kidnapped last month as they traveled by bus through Ghazni province. Two other male hostages in the group were later shot dead by the Taliban.

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