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December 29, 1999
Fourth round of talks with hijackers begins
As the fourth round of talks with the hijackers of the Indian Airlines Flight IC 814 began at about 1000 hours (IST) today, officials at the crisis management group control room in New Delhi said they were in constant touch with the negotiating team in Kandahar and something ''positive'' could be expected during the day.
The Indian government's reply to the hijackers' demands would be conveyed to them during the talks, civil aviation secretary Ravindra Gupta said.
Asked for details of India's reply, he said the ''strategy cannot be revealed.''
The third round of talks failed to make any headway, CMG sources added.
Meanwhile, the top council of Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement was planning to meet to discuss the crisis, an official in Kandhar said.
''We will discuss the matter in the shura (council),'' said the official, Mullah Abdullah.
Taliban Foreign Minister Abdul Wakil Muttawakil told a news conference that the negotiations had made little progress. ''The talks are in medium condition, no progress has been made so far,'' he said.
Meanwhile, the fate of 155 hostages hangs in the balance amidst the harsh winter at Kandahar, with temperatures lurking around sub-zero levels.
Sources added that all the passengers were safe.
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