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Taliban Offers To Free U.S. Soldier In Exchange For Five Guantánamo Prisoners

  • World
  • 06.20.13 07:17 PM EDT

The Taliban made an offer on Thursday to free the one known prisoner of war from Iraq or Afghanistan who has been held capitve for four years. It comes at a price: the U.S. must release five senior Taliban operatives held at Guantánamo. 

The offer comes with plans for tentative peace talks this weekend for John Kerry to conduct the first in-person meeting with the terrorist group. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he wouldn't join the two other parties on Wednesday when Taliban officials hung a flag with the title "Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan" at their new office in Doha. This was the name that the country took when the terrorist group was in power in the 90s and Karzai said he didn't want Afghanistan as a country or the U.S. to endorse this statement. He says he will join the negotiations as long as the flag and any signs making similar statements are removed. He also requires a written letter from the U.S. stating support for the centralized Afghan government.

If released, Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho will return home for the first time in four years.  He is the only known prisoner of war from either the Iraq or Afghanistan war and is believed to be held in Pakistan. The potential prisoner exchange is controversial in the U.S. where some fear that freeing five high-level Taliban officials could simply strengthen their base. All five are being held at Guantánamo.

Taliban spokesman Shaheen Suhail has stated that the exchange must come before any other talks to end the 12-year war can be planned. "First has to be the release of detainees," he said, "Then step by step, we want to build bridges of confidence to go forward."