US may consider Taliban prisoner swap

The United States is currently working on a schedule to hold direct talks with the Taliban.

Written by PTI | Washington | Published: June 21, 2013 11:07:21 am

The US has not ruled out discussions with the Taliban on a prisoner swap as it tries to bring home its soldier held captive by the militants. “We have not made a decision to transfer any Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay,though we anticipate,that the Taliban will raise this issue,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters.

“We will make any such decisions in consultation with Congress and according to US law. But they have stated before,as they’ve stated again today,that this is an issue – the release of these detainees – that they would plan to raise,” Psaki said in response to a question. The United States is currently working on a schedule to hold direct talks with the Taliban – the first in many years.

“We have been very clear on our feelings about Sergeant Bergdahl and the need for him to be released,” she said,when asked about the Taliban offer of the release of its soldier in exchange of five Taliban prisoners. Sergeant Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan on June 30,2009. He said in a video that he was captured when he fell behind his unit during a patrol.

Meanwhile,opposing the move of the Obama Administration to hold talks with the Taliban,a US lawmaker said that negotiations with this terrorist organization will not succeed. “Negotiations between the United States and the Taliban,announced this week, will not succeed,” Congressman Dana Rohrabacher,wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry. “It is a civil war. Negotiations should take place between the warring parties,the Northern Front which represents the Tajiks,Uzbeks,and Hazaras,and the Taliban.

As long as the Northern Front is not at the negotiating table,the war will continue,” he said. “The United States should not enter into talks with Mullah Omar,the leader of the Taliban,or his representatives except to negotiate his surrender to US authorities for his terrorist acts against American citizens,” said Rohrabacher,who is Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe,Eurasia,and Emerging Threats.

In his letter Rohrabacher said ignoring the decentralized nature of Afghanistan and relying on strategies which have clearly failed will not honor the sacrifices the United States has made. “Ignoring the reality that sixty per cent of Afghans are not Pashtuns and have a different cultural and ethnic heritage is truly an exercise in self-delusion “As US military power recedes in the region,we must again count on the friendship of the Uzbeks,Tajiks,Hazaras and friendly Pashtuns to achieve our strategic goals and keep the Taliban from returning to power,” he said.

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