The Taliban initiated a friendly sign in proposing prisoner exchanges for their operatives imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. The Taliban has opened a new political office in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The senior spokesman for the group has been pushing the initiative for approval by U.S. government officials.
The Taliban has produced a U.S. soldier that has been held captive since 2009. The Taliban desires the release of five senior operatives in the exchange. The Soldier has been identified as U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Hailey, Idaho. It is unclear about the details of how Bergdahl was taken captive. He was last seen at his base in southeastern Afghanistan on June of 2009. The U.S. media has expressed interest in the condition of Bergdahl’s well-being.
The office in Qatar was established by Taliban officials in an effort to begin peace talk initiatives. In a telephone interview, Shaheen Suhail, spokesman for the Taliban assured reporters of the status of Bergdahl stating, “is, as far as I know, in good condition.”
The prisoner exchange tops the Taliban’s agenda in the opening series of peace talks. Suhail expressed in the call from the Qatar offices. Suhail is recognized as a top Taliban Figure, he served as first secretary at the Afghan Embassy in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad in advance of the Taliban government’s ouster in 2001.
Detailing the Taliban’s desire of friendly relations with the U.S., “first has to be the release of detainees,” Suhail said. “Yes. It would be an exchange. Then step by step, we want to build bridges of Confidence to go forward.”
The Taliban held a ribbon-cutting ceremony of their new installation on Tuesday. They hoisted slogan flags and made statements concerning Taliban-U.S. relations. It was later reported they claimed responsibility for a recent rocket attack at Bagram Air Base, which killed American services members outside of the Afghan capital.
Suhail reiterated the Taliban’s insistency that first interlocutors be with the United States. “First we talk to the Americans about those issues concerning the Americans an us (because)for those issues implementation is only in the hands of the Americans,” he said.
“We want foreign troops to be pulled out of Afghanistan,” he added. “If there are troops in Afghanistan then there will be a continuation of the war.”
“After we finish the phase of talking to the Americans, then we should start the internal phase….that would include all Afghans,” he said. “Having all groups involved will guarantee peace and stability.”
Reconciliation between the U.S. and the Taliban has often been dismal due to the Afghanistan government’s insistency that they’re the recognized sovereign power in Afghanistan affairs.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected in Doha Saturday for a conference on the Syrian civil war. It is unclear if a meeting with the Taliban will be set. As a response to the Taliban’s open gesture to improve relations with the U.S., State Department spokeswoman, Jan Psaki said the U.S. had “never confirmed” any specific meeting schedule.
By Thomas Barr