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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

World

Taliban offer to free US soldier in Afghan
AP
Islamabad, June 21, 2013
First Published: 00:24 IST(21/6/2013)
Last Updated: 01:44 IST(21/6/2013)

Afghan Taliban are ready to free a US soldier held captive since 2009 in exchange for five of their senior operatives imprisoned at Guantanamo as a conciliatory gesture, a senior spokesman said Thursday.

The only known American soldier held captive from the Afghan war is US Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl of Idaho, he disappeared from his base in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, and is believed held in Pakistan.

In an exclusive telephone interview with Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Shaheen Suhail said Bergdahl "is, as far as I know, in good condition."

Among the five, Taliban have consistently requested for Khairullah Khairkhwa and Mullah Mohammed Fazl.They have been held for almost decade.

Bergdahl's parents earlier this month received a letter from their son who turned 27 on March 28 through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

They did not release details of the letter but renewed their plea for his release. The soldier's captivity has been marked by sporadic releases of videos and information about his whereabouts.

The prisoner exchange is the first item on the Taliban's agenda before even opening peace talks, said Suhail, who served as first secretary at the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, US secretary of state John Kerry was expected in Doha ahead of Saturday's conference on the Syrian civil war. While in Qatar, Kerry is also expected to meet with the Taliban but timing was unclear.


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