News / Asia

Afghan Taliban: Suspending Talks With US on Prisoner Exchange

Afghanistan map with KabulAfghanistan map with Kabul
x
Afghanistan map with Kabul
Afghanistan map with Kabul
Ayaz Gul
The Taliban says it has temporarily suspended talks with the United States on a possible prisoners’ swap, citing the “current complexity of the political situation in Afghanistan." The statement comes days after media reports quoted U.S. authorities as saying the Obama administration has renewed efforts at talks with the Afghan insurgent group to trade five senior Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  
 
This is the first direct confirmation from either side that talks have taken place in recent weeks between the United States and the Taliban on a possible exchange of prisoners before the planned withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan in December.
 
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, in a statement issued Sunday says its representatives were conducting the discussions through their “political office” in Qatar, and authorities in the gulf state acted as mediators.  
 
Under the reported proposed deal, five Taliban detainees would be released from Guantanamo prison to protective custody in Qatar in exchange for U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured nearly five years ago (June 2009). The 27-year-old American soldier is the only known U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan.  He was last seen in a video released in December.
 
The Taliban spokesman says the footage was released as a “proof of life” demanded by the United States to ensure progress in the secret discussions on the possible exchange of prisoners.
 
However, he added the Taliban has decided to suspend the talks for some time “due to the political complexity of the current situation” in Afghanistan. Without elaborating, he said that “the prisoner exchange process stands delayed until further notice."
 
White House spokesman Jay Carney in a recent news conference (last Tuesday) explained the United States continues to call for and work towards Sgt. Bergdahl’s safe and immediate release.  But he stopped short of offering direct comments on reported contacts with the Taliban on the issue.  

“We are not involved in active negotiations with the Taliban," said Carney. "If negotiations were to resume, we would certainly press the case of Sergeant Bergdahl. In the meantime, we are actively engaged in an effort to see his return.  I can’t document every effort, but that includes our military, our intelligence and our diplomatic tools.”

Media reports suggest attempts to arrange the exchange of prisoners are part of wider U.S. efforts to jump-start a troubled peace and reconciliation process between the Afghan government and the Taliban that stalled in June.
 
U.S.-led coalition combat troops are preparing to leave Afghanistan in December, prompting fears the Taliban will try to capitalize on the absence of international forces. A proposed residual American military presence past 2014 to assist Afghan security forces remains uncertain because President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to sign a bilateral security pact with the United States.
 
The threat was highlighted by Sunday’s Taliban assault on an Afghan military outpost that killed at least 19 soldiers. The attack occurred in a province that borders Pakistan and has prompted the Afghan president to postpone his planned visit to Sri Lanka.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid