The Afghan Taliban is willing to trade America’s only prisoner of war for five Taliban operatives in a gesture to start peace talks, according to an exclusive report from the Associated Press.
The POW, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, is a U.S. Army soldier who was captured in Afghanistan more than five years ago. The five Taliban are senior operatives who are currently imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.
On June 30th, 2009, Bergdahl walked off a U.S. outpost in eastern Afghanistan with nothing but water, a knife, a digital camera, and his diary.
Last year the late Michael Hastings reported that the Idaho native grew disenchanted with the Army and was missing in Afghanistan.
Bergdahl, then was a 23-year-old private first class, was captured by the Taliban near the border with Pakistan.
The prisoner exchange is the biggest priority for the Taliban as they enter negotiations with U.S. officials, a senior Taliban official told the AP.
The U.S. was reportedly willing to send the same five prisoners to Qatar as part of peace talks two years ago in a show of good faith, but the move was blocked by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Karzai is again standing in the way of peace talks, saying he will boycott the process until he feels it is “Afghan-led.”
The Taliban has released a few videos of Bergdahl, and his family recently received a letter from him.
He is “as far as I know, in good condition,” the Taliban official told the AP. “First has to be the release of detainees … Then step by step, we want to build bridges of confidence to go forward.”
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