A report this week from Reuters news service raises hopes there may be progress in efforts to get an Idaho soldier in Taliban captivity back onto U.S. soil. But the news about renewed negotiations also shows Bowe Bergdahl’s freedom is a key part of peace talks in Afghanistan.
Reuters reports the Obama administration has a new offer for Taliban leaders: five Guantanamo Bay detainees delivered to Qatar, in exchange for the release of Bergdahl.
MIT political science professor Richard Samuels says unlike other prisoner swaps, Bergdahl’s return appears to be the first step in negotiations, rather than the end goal.
Samuels: “So the government looks like it’s pursuing this from a more strategic perspective to establish channels of communication with the Taliban that it needs for larger strategic purposes.”
Similar plans have broken down before. In Hailey, Idaho, the Bergdahls’ neighbor Lee Ann Ferris says she’s leery of getting her hopes up again.
Ferris: “Not that we’ve given up hope, because we haven’t. We’re just listening to the news with a positive attitude knowing that we could have another setback.”
Even if Taliban leaders and U.S. negotiators do reach a deal, Congress would have to be notified before the detainees are released from Guantanamo Bay.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network
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Reuters: “U.S. sweetens Taliban prisoner proposal in bid to revive peace talks”