Taliban Offers to Free Captured U.S. Soldier in Exchange for 5 Members in Gitmo

Mike O'Brien

The Taliban in Afghanistan say they will free a U.S. soldier in exchange for the release of five of their senior figures being held at Guantanamo Bay.

It is believed the group is referring to U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 27, of Hailey, Idaho, who disappeared from his base in southeastern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009.

Taliban spokesman Shaheen Suhail told the Associated Press on Thursday that Bergdahl "is, as far as I know, in good condition."

The offer was announced shortly after Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he would be willing to meet the Taliban for talks, so long as the group’s flag and nameplate are not showing at its newly opened political office in Doha, Qatar.

Mr. Bergdahl's parents made a plea for his release earlier this month after they received a letter from him through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Suhail said the prisoner exchange is the top priority on the Taliban's agenda before any peace talks begin.

He told the AP: "First has to be the release of detainees. Yes. It would be an exchange. Then step by step, we want to build bridges of confidence to go forward."

The Obama administration welcomed the Taliban’s offer for talks earlier this week, but so far has not confirmed any official meetings.

However some analysts believe there may been secret talks between the Taliban and American officials in the next few days.