US Sweetens Taliban Deal in Bid to Get POW Back

Sources say officials are willing to set 5 Gitmo prisoners free at once
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2014 6:40 AM CST
Updated Feb 18, 2014 7:53 AM CST
US Sweetens Taliban Deal in Bid to Get Army POW Back
This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.   (AP Photo/U.S. Army)

Time is ticking away for the US to extract American POW Bowe Bergdahl before the bulk of US forces withrdraw from Afghanistan this year, and the Obama administration is now once again considering a prisoner swap. The administration is looking to re-open talks with the Taliban about trading the Army sergeant's freedom for five Afghan Taliban prisoners currently detained at Guantanamo Bay, current and former officials tell the Washington Post. That offer has been on the table for more than two years, but just last month, US officials agreed to allow all five Gitmo prisoners to be released simultaneously, rather than one at a time or in groups of two.

Sources say the Taliban broke off talks almost two years ago over the staggered release plan, and that the US has always been open to resuming negotiations. The new offer hasn't yet been made formal, but it would focus only on the issue of Bergdahl; officials had once hoped the prisoner release negotiations could lead to broader discussions involving the Afghan government. Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in 2009, and is believed to be in Pakistan now, held by the Haqqani network. One of the Gitmo prisoners included in the deal is a Haqqani member. (Just last month, officials obtained video evidence that Bergdahl is still alive.)

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