Friday, August 31, 2007

Canada, Germany, Afghanistan blame Korea for Hostage Deal

You know, when Canada criticises you for being soft on terrorism, you’re in big trouble.

Canada’s foreign minister, in a rare public blast at a close ally, has criticized South Korea for negotiating with Taliban militants to free a group of hostages.

“The Canadian position on dealings with terrorists is well-known to all those with even a passing familiarity with the subject. We do not negotiate with terrorists, for any reason,” Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said in a statement. “Such negotiations, even if unsuccessful, only lead to further acts of terrorism.”

And from Germany, we have this:

Opposition Green Party defense spokesman Winfried Nachtwei said he was pleased the hostages had been freed but at a political level it was nothing less than “a political triumph for the Taliban.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government would not change its strategy in light of the release of the Korean hostages. “The situation concerning the South Korean hostages will not change in the way we are dealing with it,” she said..

And out of Afghanistan, we have the following (from the same article linked above):

“It is a very dangerous message when we give the impression that the international community and the Afghan government are able to be blackmailed,” said Aghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta.

The day before, Afghan commerce minister Amin Farhang had also criticized the South Korean government for bypassing the Afghan government and dealing directly with the Taliban. “This release under these conditions will make our difficulties in Afghanistan even bigger,” Farhand said German radio station, Bayerischer Rundfunk. “We fear that this decision could become a precedent. The Taliban will continue trying to take hostages to attain their aims in Afghanistan.”

I’m extremely happy for the hostages and their families, but in addition to whatever ransom was paid (and we all know that one was paid), what price has South Korea paid in terms of political credibility and national prestige for giving in to the Taliban, and especially for bypassing the Afghan government and negotiating directly with terrorists?

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