Is the US swapping prisoners for captured soldier with Taliban? - Tucson News Now

Is the US swapping prisoners for captured soldier with the Taliban?

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Source say the U.S. is considering the release of Taliban prisoners hoping to secure the return of a captured U.S. soldier held by a Taliban affiliate. (Source: YouTube/CNN) Source say the U.S. is considering the release of Taliban prisoners hoping to secure the return of a captured U.S. soldier held by a Taliban affiliate. (Source: YouTube/CNN)
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(CNN) – Officials in Washington are reportedly prepared to release five Taliban in the hopes of freeing a U.S. soldier in the Middle East.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has appeared in captivity in numerous videos, recently seen issuing a desperate appeal for release.

"Release me, please, I'm begging you," Bergdahl said in a YouTube video. "Bring me home – bring us all home. Please, please, bring me home."

The U.S. has begun new talks to get Bergdahl back home after more than four years in captivity.

Working through intermediaries, most likely the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, the U.S. is trying to see what it would take to get Bergdahl free.

Bergdahl been held since July 2009 when he apparently walked away from his base is eastern Afghanistan. It's believed the Taliban-aligned Haqqani Network inside Pakistan has him.

The Taliban, in the past, has demanded the release of five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.

"Whether it be our State Department for our diplomatic efforts, whether it be our military for their efforts, or whether it be our intelligence operations for their efforts, I'm confident that Bowe Bergdahl is at the top of their priority list as well," CNN military analyst Ret. Major General James "Spider" Marks said. "And I can't tell you how many meetings I've had and conversations I've had with high-level and onsite level officials who are working on this."

The Washington Post is reporting the U.S. has now agreed to release all five Taliban prisoners simultaneously to the Qataris, to guarantee Bergdahl's release.

"We are not involved in active negotiations with the Taliban," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. "Clearly, if negotiations do resume at some point, then we will want to talk with the Taliban about the safe return of Sgt. Bergdahl."

The Bergdahl family issued a statement saying little, other than they have never given up trying to get Bergdahl back. The family's statement said, "We are cautiously optimistic these discussions will lead to the safe return of our son."

There is growing urgency, as U.S. troops could be gone from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

"We are running out of time," Marks said. "I think this administration has decided that we will not have a long-term presence in Afghanistan."

Bergdahl appeared frail in a still unreleased classified video made in December. The existence of the video was first reported on CNN, and officials say Bergdahl's declining health only adds to the determination to get him home.

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