Clock ticking on talks to free American soldier held by Taliban

With the clock running down on the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the Obama administration is picking up efforts to arrange a prisoner swap to free an American Army sergeant held by the Taliban.

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Photo: Wikipedia

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 27, was captured in 2009 after inexplicably straying from his base in eastern Afghanistan, according to the Washington Post. According to the Post, American officials intercepted a video in January that appears to show Bergdahl is still alive, the first evidence since 2010 that he hadn’t been killed by his captors.

Under the proposed deal, the United States would free five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl’s release, according to the Post.

Talks to exchange the Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl have been complicated by American negotiations with the Afghan government over the future of U.S. forces there. According to the Post, U.S. officials considered the Bergdahl talks with the Taliban a possible beginning for wider peace talks, but that strained relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzhai, who suspected the U.S. was trying to cut him out of peace talks entirely.

Any new talks with the Taliban will be confined strictly to getting Bergdahl released, according to the Post.

And with no agreement between the Karzhai government and the Obama administration over a security pact that would allow American forces to remain in Afghanistan, the U.S. is on the verge of losing leverage in the talks to get Bergdahl back in American hands.

“He’s been gone too long,” Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters during a news briefing Friday. “We want him back. We’ve never stopped trying to bring that about. He’s never far from anyone’s mind here.”

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