NPR is reporting the Taliban has shown a “change of heart” that could pave the way toward the release of Northwest soldier Bowe Bergdahl. The Army sergeant from Hailey, Idaho, was captured in Afghanistan three years ago. He’s the only known U.S. prisoner of war.
U.S. officials familiar with the discussions tell NPR that Bergdahl’s captors are receptive to negotiations. The U.S. is reportedly offering to swap several key Taliban figures imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl. But the Taliban would first have to publicly denounce al-Qaida.
U.N. monitoring team coordinator Richard Barrett tells NPR the release of these Taliban leaders to Qatar would be more than symbolic.
Barrett: “They could be joined by their families and so on. There would be an office there and presumably they would be in communication with their Taliban friends. You could argue that their release could give a boost to the movement. Whether it was a boost toward peace or a boost toward war that would remain to be seen."
The swap would be a good-faith move that -- it’s hoped -- would lead to broader peace negotiations in Afghanistan. The U.N. Security Council would have to lift travel restrictions on the Taliban prisoners for the exchange to take place. Also, Congress would have to be notified about the move.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network
On the Web:
NPR: Taliban Showing New Willingness On Prisoner Swap