Taliban says it suspends talks on held US soldier

Comment: Off

FILE – This image made from video released Wednesday April 7, 2010 by the Taliban via the Site Intelligence Group shows U.S. soldier then Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl. 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. (AP Photo/Site Intelligence Group, File) MANDATORY CREDIT: SITE INTELLIGENCE GROUP; ON-SCREEN LOGO MUST NOT BE OBSCURED; NO SALES

FILE – This image made from video released Wednesday April 7, 2010 by the Taliban via the Site Intelligence Group shows U.S. soldier then Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl. 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. (AP Photo/Site Intelligence Group, File) MANDATORY CREDIT: SITE INTELLIGENCE GROUP; ON-SCREEN LOGO MUST NOT BE OBSCURED; NO SALES

FILE – This undated photo provided by the Bergdahl family and released by the Idaho National Guard shows then Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho. 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. (AP Photo/The Bergdahl Family, File)

FILE – This file image provided by IntelCenter on Wednesday Dec. 8, 2010 shows a frame grab from a video released by the Taliban containing footage of a man believed to be Bowe Bergdahl, left. 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. (AP Photo/IntelCenter, File) MANDATORY CREDIT: INTELCENTER; NO SALES; EDS NOTE: “INTELCENTER” AT LEFT TOP CORNER ADDED BY SOURCE

Buy AP Photo Reprints

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

In a terse Pashto language statement emailed to The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed blamed the “current complex political situation in the country” for the suspension.

A U.S. official with knowledge of the talks said the cause of the suspension was not the result of any issue between the United States and Taliban. He declined to elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

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

Mujahed said the indirect talks with the U.S. had been mediated by 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 the five 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,” the statement read. “The process will remain suspended without the exchange of the prisoners until our decision to resume.”

Mujahed 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 campaign ahead of an April 5 election. Two-term President Hamid Karzai cannot run again for office under the Afghan constitution.

The U.S. State Department has refused to acknowledge the negotiations, but the U.S. official previously told the AP that indirect talks were underway.

In response to the Taliban statement Sunday, U.S. Embassy spokesman in Afghanistan 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 U.S. to leave a residual force behind in Afghanistan. Karzai says he wants Washington to push reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban 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

Comments

comments

About the Author