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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Taliban Pins Koreans' Fate to Meeting

ReutersBush driving his wife, Laura, and Karzai on Monday in Camp David, Maryland. Karzai was on a two-day visit there.
GHAZNI, Afghanistan -- Taliban insurgents said Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. President George W. Bush, meeting Monday in Camp David, must free jailed rebels or be responsible for the deaths of 21 Korean hostages.

The renewed Taliban threat comes as negotiations to free them remained deadlocked.

The Taliban have killed two of the hostages and have repeatedly threatened to kill the remaining 18 women and three men unless the Afghan government agrees to free jailed rebels.

"Karzai has gone to America and it is possible he will make a strong decision with Bush to release the Koreans and agree to exchange prisoners because Bush and Karzai are responsible for securing the hostages," purported Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said by telephone.

Asked what the Taliban would do if there was no swap, the spokesman said: "The responsibility will lie with Karzai and Bush."

Afghanistan has refused to release Taliban prisoners, saying that would encourage a kidnapping "industry."

"We will not do anything that will encourage hostage-taking, that will encourage terrorism. But we will do everything else to have them released," Karzai told CNN television.

Bush and Karzai are to focus on the worsening violence in Afghanistan and the threat from militant hideouts in neighboring Pakistan in talks at the U.S. presidential Camp David retreat.

Karzai arrived on Sunday afternoon and was greeted by Bush and first lady Laura Bush.

Karzai chatted briefly with a few of Bush's top aides, then he climbed in the front in Bush's local ride -- Golf Cart One -- while the first lady got in back. Bush drove them away after wheeling the golf cart into a playful spin for the gathered media. (Reuters, AP)