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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid