U.S. Sweetens Prisoner Swap Deal To Free Idaho POW Bowe Bergdahl
The Washington Post reports the Obama administration is working on a possible prisoner swap with the Taliban in order to free Idaho prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. According to the Post, U.S. officials are prepared to release five members of the Afghan Taliban imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
This is an offer that has been on the table for two years, reports the Post, but now, the Obama administration has agreed to release all five Afghan Taliban prisoners at the same time. They'd be released to protective custody in Qatar.
Hailey-native Bergdahl is the only known U.S. prisoner of war. He was captured in Afghanistan in 2009 and is believed to be in Pakistan, held by the Haqqani network, a group of Taliban allies.
"Two people familiar with the decision stressed that it was the Taliban that broke off negotiations nearly two years ago and that the U.S. door to talks has been open since. The renewed offer has not been formally made, and no State Department or other officials have immediate plans to travel to Doha, Qatar, where any contact facilitated by the Qatari government would take place. The Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Friday that U.S. officials are eager to get the soldier back. “He’s been gone too long,” Kirby told reporters during a briefing. “We want him back. We’ve never stopped trying to bring that about. He’s never far from anyone’s mind here.” - The Washington Post
The Bergdahl family released a statement through the Idaho National Guard saying renewed diplomacy efforts are a welcome development. "We applaud the unity of purpose and resolve at the White House and the other U.S. Government agencies involved," the statement continues. "We thank all involved for this renewed effort and we hope everyone takes this opportunity seriously. We are cautiously optimistic these discussions will lead to the safe return of our son after more than four and a half years in captivity.”