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Captured US soldier is key in talks with Taliban: Report

May 10, 2012 16:18 IST
Breaking a yearlong silence, the parents of the only American soldier held by Taliban have abruptly made public that he is the focus of a prisoners exchange being negotiated between the Obama administration and the insurgent group.

The negotiations, which are currently stalled, involve swapping five Taliban prisoners held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, who is believed to be held by the militant Haqqani network in a tribal area on Pakistan's northwest frontier, near the Afghan border, the New York Times reported.

Bergdahl was captured on June 30, 2009, in Paktika province in Afghanistan. His family has not heard from him in a year, although the Pentagon thinks he is alive and well.

The family's decision to end its silence could free the Obama administration to discuss the case publicly and reframe the debate in the US about releasing the Taliban prisoners.

Until now, the administration has said that the negotiations included talks about releasing the five prisoners from Guantanamo to the custody of the government in Qatar and not that the five might be exchanged for Bergdahl.

Bergdahl's father, Robert Bergdahl, said in interviews that he was frustrated by lack of progress in the negotiations, which he believes are stalled because the Obama administration is under pressure from the Congress in an election year not to negotiate with terrorists. "We don't have faith in the US government being able to reconcile this," Bergdahl said.

Although Bowe Bergdahl's capture and captivity have long been publicly known, the family had kept the prisoner swap negotiations secret at the urging of the administration and out of fear that their son might be harmed.

Some Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress have opposed the prisoners exchange.


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