Taliban Agrees to Release 19 Korean Christian Hostages

The Taliban has agreed to release the 19 South Korean aid volunteers that have been held hostage by the militant group in Afghanistan for over a month, Al Jazeera reported.

The Qatar-based television channel said it had received the report from its Kabul correspondent, which stated: "There was an agreement between the Taliban and a South Korean delegation to release the hostages in return for the withdrawal of the troops before the end of the year."

A South Korean presidential spokesman has confirmed the reports but added that it may take some time before the actual release takes place.

The Taliban reportedly only agreed to the release after South Korea agreed to meet other conditions such as halting its citizens from conducting any Christian missionary activity in the Middle Eastern country.

It has been 40 days since the Islamic militant group originally kidnapped the 23 Korean church group on July 19 as they traveled by bus in the insurgency-plagued Ghazni province to provide free medical services to poor Afghan citizens.

The Taliban has so far killed two male hostages after issuing a series of deadlines, but also freed two female captives as a "gesture of goodwill" during the first round of talks.

Following the first break-through in the hostage drama, however, the talks started to falter nearly two weeks ago after the Korean team told the Taliban it could not fulfill the group's main demand of freeing Taliban prisoners jailed by the Afghan Government.

Taliban and South Korean negotiators were expected to resume talks on Tuesday to discuss the fate of the remaining 19 Korean hostages.