Seoul's efforts to secure the release of 21 South Koreans held hostage by the radical-Islamic Taliban in Afghanistan are focused on negotiating a venue for face-to-face talks, according to informed sources on Friday.
A meeting between the rebels and South Korea's ambassador to Afghanistan Kang Sung Zu has been agreed upon, though not the location, and is likely to be held on Friday, Yonhap reported, citing informed sources.
Seoul did not officially confirm the reports.
The purported spokesman for Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents said on Thursday that their members had the first direct talk by telephone with Kang. Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yusif Ahmadi told DPA by phone: "our representatives are in Ghazni" and are "ready to meet them".
Ahmadi said there has been no change in their demand for the release of eight of their jailed comrades. The Taliban spokesman, however, did not rule out that a fresh deadline would be set.
The latest deadline had expired at noon on Wednesday, the day after the second hostage was found killed.
A group of 23 South Korean Christians, including 18 women in their 20s and 30s, were kidnapped July 19 while travelling to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar from Kabul.