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Taliban suspends talks with U.S. about exchange of captive soldier

Taliban Suspends Talks To Release Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Afghanistan's Taliban says it has suspended "mediation" with the United States to exchange captive U.S. soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five senior Taliban prisoners held in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay, halting - at least temporarily - what was considered the best chance yet of securing the 27-year-old's freedom since his capture in 2009.

In a terse Pashto language statement emailed to the Associated Press on Sunday, Zabihullah Mujahed blamed the "current complex political situation in the country" for the suspension.

Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was last seen in a video released in December, footage seen as "proof of life" demanded by the United States. Bergdahl is believed to be held in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mujahed said the indirect talks with the United States had been mediated by the Middle Eastern state of Qatar, where the Taliban established a political office last June. The video of Bergdahl was part of the negotiations which were to lead to the eventual transfer of five senior Taliban leaders held since 2002 in Guantanamo Bay.

"The leadership of the Islamic Emirate has decided to suspend the process for some time due to the current complex political situation in the country," according to the statement. "The process will remain suspended without the exchange of the prisoners until our decision to resume."

The Taliban spokesman did not elaborate on what "political situation" in Afghanistan led to the suspension of talks or say when they might resume. Afghanistan is in the middle of a presidential election campaign. President Hamid Karzai cannot seek another term in office under the Afghan constitution which allows only two terms as president. The election is scheduled for April 5.

The U.S. State Department has refused to acknowledge the negotiations, but a U.S. official familiar with the negotiations confirmed to The Associated Press that indirect talks were underway. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

In response to the Taliban statement, U.S. Embassy Spokesman in Kabul Robert Hilton said: "Sgt. Bergdahl has been gone far too long, however we can't discuss the efforts we're taking to obtain his return."

Efforts at a swap are also seen as a concession to Karzai. Washington would like to see him back away from his refusal to sign a security pact that is necessary for the United States to leave a residual force behind in Afghanistan

Karzai he wants Washington to push reconciliation between the warring factions forward, without offering specifics.

The five Taliban detainees at the heart of the proposal are the most senior Afghans still held at the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba. Each has been held since 2002.

They include:

- Mohammad Fazl, whom Human Rights Watch says could be prosecuted for war crimes for presiding over the mass killing of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001 as the Taliban sought to consolidate its control over the country.

- Abdul Haq Wasiq, who served as the Taliban deputy minister of intelligence and was in direct contact with supreme leader Mullah Omar as well as other senior Taliban figures, according to military documents. Under Wasiq, there were widespread accounts of killings, torture and mistreatment.

- Mullah Norullah Nori, who was a senior Taliban commander in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif when the Taliban fought U.S. forces in late 2001. He previously served as a Taliban governor in two northern provinces, where he has been accused of ordering the massacre of thousands of Shiites.

- Khairullah Khairkhwa, who served in various Taliban positions including interior minister and a military commander and had direct ties to Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, according to U.S. military documents. His U.S. lawyers have argued in court papers that his affiliation with the Taliban was a matter of circumstance, rather than ideology, and that he had backed away from them by the time of his capture. His lawyers also have argued that he was merely a civil servant and had no military role, though a judge found otherwise and said there was enough evidence to justify holding him at Guantanamo. His lawyers have appealed.

- Mohammed Nabi, who served as chief of security for the Taliban in Qalat, Afghanistan and later worked as a radio operator for the Taliban's communications office in Kabul and as an office manager in the border department, according to U.S. military documents. In the spring of 2002, he told interrogators that he received about $500 from a CIA operative as part of the unsuccessful effort to track down Mullah Omar. When that didn't pan out, he says he ended up helping the agency locate al-Qaida members.

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AT EASE SOLDIER February 23 2014 at 9:56 PM

I'm sure all the tough talking testosterone driven war hawks here will lace up their boots and go hiking over there as soon as they scrape together enough money for the plane ticket since they OBVIOUSLY know what needs to be done. Here's whats going to happen the minute they negotiate with the Taliban for this Soldier's release, every other Soldier on and off duty is going to be a walking target for every wannabe sleeper terrorist all over the world. Stick to your Bruce Willis flicks because that's about the all the insight you have on military operations.

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2 replies
tdhammond1 AT EASE SOLDIER February 23 2014 at 11:15 PM

Well said. This is what our Special Ops, are for. Still, going to pray, for this soldier. He may be recovered, but...

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tdhammond1 AT EASE SOLDIER February 23 2014 at 11:17 PM

The US, does not negotiate, with terrorists.

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mark and sheri February 23 2014 at 11:33 PM

Notice how this has been pretty much IGNORED by just about everybody until recently? Why is that?
Moral of the Story It Seems. Do not get captured in the Mid East, at least until the Current Administration is gone. The Media will pretty much ignore you, and the POTUS is more concerned with Syrians than POW U.S. Servicemen.

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1 reply
big dog mark and sheri February 24 2014 at 12:14 AM

ignorant comment
but
the 1st allows you to do it

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mrs. hilliard February 23 2014 at 11:34 PM

I pray that we can bring this man home! I can't imagine how I & my family would feel had my husband not returned from one of his many deployments. So sad.

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alfomnire February 23 2014 at 8:22 PM

Honestly, it is all about politics! The people in charge of our country think they know better than the rest of us. Mistakes after mistakes. Getting us into wars that did not do anything for the American people, but blood and grief. Both parties are to blame for what is happening to America. Poor soldier, he has been left behind, as the soldiers and ambassador in Benghazi. Who wants to fight for these wars anyhow? Our young men and women are sent to die for these politicians and commanders in chief? What did they gave their lives for? Don't tell me freedom. A smart president would have handled 9/11 by retaliating in a different manner, and not going in with booths on the ground and prolonging the wars for over 10 years. All wrong! We are paying dearly and our soldiers too. Head of states and politicians don't care about the soldier in captivity, nor for the American people. But all over around the world, the populace is revolting against tyranny and socialism. Maybe the American people will wake up one day, and restore Democracy and Capitalism.

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2 replies
siscosdad alfomnire February 23 2014 at 8:46 PM

Most Americans feel as you do. Despite all the muck-mouth socialists you see commenting here, they only represent a tiny minority.

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William alfomnire February 23 2014 at 9:53 PM

It's all about Money,, the elected officials don't care about the american people and who they hurt,, Hell" look at the many people that have lossed their jobs due to cutbacks'' WHY? to save MONEY'' and look at the downsizeing of the military,, yeah keep cutting our forces,, and don't think for a second that thease other countries aren't watching,, and when the time comes you can bet your bottom dollar that when they make their move WE"" as a nation will be caught with our pants down, and by then it will be a little to late, we will be fighting on our own soil,,I can't for the life of me can't see why other people can't see this..

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Timmo February 23 2014 at 4:37 PM

What ever happened to "the USA does not negotiate with terrorist's" ? This administration is a joke!

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1 reply
brenhatestwinkie Timmo February 23 2014 at 4:54 PM

we do, it's called doing it in the dark, so get a clue

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1 reply
Rob brenhatestwinkie February 23 2014 at 5:00 PM

Publicly announcing we doing it is not "doing it backchannel." Obama appears to be the new Chamberlain..willing to appease on any issue. That's the problem when you elect a senator with no management experience.

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ddihomes February 23 2014 at 4:33 PM

What ever happened to "the USA does not negotiate with terrorist's" ? This administration is a joke!

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randyv686 February 23 2014 at 4:32 PM

Here's an idea, implant bombs in the "prisoners" and after the transfer, push the "activate" button. Let the terrorists get a taste of high tech homicide bombers.

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julietjdx3 February 23 2014 at 3:59 PM

send in the Navy Seal they will let him go for sure

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1 reply
ramonbatt julietjdx3 February 23 2014 at 4:17 PM

Funny how a 3rd world country is calling all the shots and is also in control. Navy Seals? Really? They need someone to hold their hands and show where he is.

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1 reply
ramonbatt ramonbatt February 23 2014 at 4:18 PM

Agree.

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Susy Jones February 24 2014 at 12:09 AM

My son is going over to that hellhole next month. If ANYTHING bad happens to him there will be hell to pay. We should have nuked that damn worthless country a long time ago. To much of our valuable AMERICAN lives have been wasted over there, and for what? Seems like we did not "fix" that shithole at all. WE need to stop trying to help all the other countries and look at our own problems...

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3 replies
ohioh111b111y February 23 2014 at 3:41 PM

This guy missing is an odd case to me. I pray, truly, that he is being treated ok and that he is returned home soon. Part of me wonders though, if our Govt isn't permitting him to stay captive for some reason or other. We put on our supermans capes and are able to save so many other US citizens.... but this guy ... something doesn't add up to me. ?

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