US considering soldier swap with Taliban after botched peace talks
The United States have said that they are prepared to consider a soldier swap with the Taliban, with an American official reportedly saying that they would be willing to discuss the return of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who was captured in 2009.
On Thursday, the Taliban proposed swapping Sergeant Bergdahl for five prisoners that are currently being held in Guantanamo Bay. The Taliban went on to suggest that this swap should be seen as an action that would build trust between the US and the Taliban.
A state department spokeswoman told reporters in Washington: “We have not made a decision to transfer any Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, though we anticipate, as I’ve said, that the Taliban will all raise this issue,” adding, “we’ll talk with the Taliban… about the safe return of Sergeant Bergdahl. He’s been gone far too long. We continue to call for and work towards his safe and immediate release”.
Reports of a possible soldier swap follow recent controversy surrounding peace talks after the Afghan president, Mr Karzai, was reportedly furious that the Taliban had been allowed to use the formal name “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the title of the ousted government, for their office. A statement from Mr Karzai’s office explains: “John Kerry assured that the Qatari government has removed the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ sign from the Taliban office and the office is for peace talks only”.
John Kerry, US Secretary of State, is due to arrive in Doha. However, there have been no specific dates set for the US and Taliban talks as of yet, after plans to meet this week were botched due to a disagreement regarding the sign of the new Taliban office building in Qatar.
The Afghanistan Analysts Network said in a brief note: “The opening of this office has made the Taliban look strong, the Americans desperate and president Karzai angry”.