Taliban Stops Negotiations for U.S. Soldier's Release
The Taliban in Afghanistan said Sunday they have cut off any "mediation" with the United States in which their captive U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl would be exchanged for five senior Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid emailed the associated press that the reason for the cut-off in communication was the "current complex political situation in the country … 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 process will remain suspended without the exchange of the prisoners until our decision to resume."
A U.S. official familiar with the negotiations said the cause of the breakdown was not any issue between the United States and Taliban. AP has heard from a U.S. official that indirect talks between the U.S. and the Taliban have been ongoing.
Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was in a video released in December; he is believed to a prisoner in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Afghanistan is holding April 5 election for president. The incumbent, Hamid Karzai cannot run again.
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."
Col. Tim Marsano, spokesman for the Idaho National Guard, said Bergdahl's family had no comment.
The five Taliban detainees the Taliban wants released are:
Mohammad Fazl: Human Rights Watch says he supervised the mass killing of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001.
Abdul Haq Wasiq: Taliban deputy minister of intelligence; he had in direct contact with supreme leader Mullah Omar; he was allegedly responsible for overseeing killings, torture and mistreatment.
Mullah Norullah Nori, former Taliban governor in two northern provinces, allegedly ordered the massacre of thousands of Shiites.
Khairullah Khairkhwa: had direct ties to Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden.
Mohammed Nabi: chief of security for the Taliban in Qalat, Afghanistan.