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South Korean Officials Meet Face-to-Face With Taleban Over Hostages

South Korean diplomats held face-to-face talks Friday with Taleban militants who have been holding 21 South Korean hostages for three weeks.

Taleban spokesman Yousef Ahmadi says two of its negotiators attended the talks in eastern Ghazni City.

Earlier, the Afghan government guaranteed safe passage for the Taleban representatives. Negotiations had earlier been stalled over where to hold the meeting.

The talks are seen as one of the last diplomatic efforts to secure the release of the hostages.

A total of 23 South Koreans were abducted by Taleban militants on July 19 while traveling through Ghazni province. The kidnappers have already executed two male hostages.

The captors have repeatedly threatened to kill more of the South Koreans unless the Afghan government and U.S. military release Taleban prisoners.

The Afghan government has refused their demands.