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Taliban offer prisoner exchange with U.S.

June 21, 2013 at 12:51 PM

WASHINGTON, June 21 (UPI) -- The Taliban have offered to trade a U.S. soldier captured in Afghanistan for five Guantanamo, Cuba, detainees, saying it would "build bridges of confidence."

Thursday's offer by a Taliban spokesman came shortly after the militant group opened an office in Qatar, a step in negotiations for a political settlement in Afghanistan, The New York Times reported. The Taliban first offered to exchange Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been a prisoner since 2009, in 2011.

The exchange faces the same obstacles it did in 2011, the Times said. Those include a demand by the Obama administration that the Taliban detainees would be released in Qatar and forbidden to leave there.

The administration must give 30 days' notice to Congress of prisoner releases.

A spokesman for Rep. Howard P. McKeon, R-Calif., the head of the House Armed Services Committee, said McKeon would want assurances the five, all allegedly senior Taliban leaders, would not be allowed to resume their fight in Afghanistan.

"Absent any actual details, the chairman remains very concerned that these five individuals should never be allowed to re-engage," spokesman Claude Chafin said.

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