The Taliban is ready to hand over the only known American prisoner of war in return for five Guantanamo Bay detainees, according to the Associated Press.
A senior Taliban spokesman told the AP they are willing to free U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 27, held captive since he disappeared from his Afghanistan base in 2009. Taliban spokesman Shaheen Suhail said Bergdahl "is, as far as I know, in good condition."
This file image provided by IntelCenter on Wednesday Dec. 8, 2010 shows a frame grab from a video released by the Taliban containing footage of a man believed to be Bowe Bergdahl, left. A Taliban spokesman, Shaheen Suhail, in an exclusive telephone interview with The Associated Press from the newly opened Taliban offices in Doha, Qatar, said Thursday, June 20, 2013, that they are ready to hand over U.S. soldier Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl held captive since 2009 in exchange for five of their senior operatives being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison. The U.S. is scrambling to save talks with the Taliban after angry complaints from Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. (AP)
Bergdahl's whereabouts have been unknown, but it's believed he's being held in Pakistan. He is from Hailey, Idaho.
The Taliban wants back several of its top operatives in return -- and said the swap would have to happen before just-announced peace talks can start.
"First has to be the release of detainees," Suhail told the AP. "Yes. It would be an exchange. Then step by step, we want to build bridges of confidence to go forward."
The peace talks already hit a snag after Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday strongly objected to the Taliban's new office set up in Qatar that called itself the "Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan." The name has since been scrapped to read simply, "Political office of the Taliban."
Secretary of State John Kerry called Karzai twice to pacify him, NBC News reported. The State Department said the Taliban office "must not be treated as or represent itself as an embassy or other office representing the Afghan Taliban, as an emirate government or sovereign."