Could Taliban prisoner exchange free U.S. POW?

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    New hope for U.S. soldier held captive

New hope for U.S. soldier held captive 02:46

Story highlights

  • The two sides held meetings in 2011 and 2012
  • Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in 2009
  • The Taliban is likely to push for the release of Guantanamo detainees

When U.S. negotiators raise the issue of captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl with the Taliban in the coming days, it won't be the first time. The two sides held meetings in 2011 and 2012 that included the topic of Bergdahl's release, with sporadic discussions since then.

The first series of talks took place in 2011 with the State Department's top representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He met Taliban representatives again the next year. An American proposal for Bergdahl's release was a topic each time, U.S. officials told CNN in May 2012.

Talks offer hope for family

The meetings after early 2012 were sporadic, but they did continue, and again Bergdahl was discussed.

"He has been gone far too long," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday. "We continue to call for and work towards his safe and immediate release."

In a file picture taken on January 30, 2012, Taliban fighters stand with their weapons as they hold the Muslim holy book Koran after they joined Afghan government forces during a ceremony in Herat province. The medieval Taliban who ran Afghanistan with the Koran in one hand and a gun in the other now tweet and talk peace, but they remain a potent threat as a NATO withdrawal looms.

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While the United States has been pushing for the return of Bergdahl -- captured in June 2009 in Afghanistan -- the Taliban has been pushing for the release of five of its own men from U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay. Psaki said the United States expects the Taliban will raise that issue again when the two sides meet.

In the past, U.S. officials have talked about transferring the Guantanamo detainees in two stages -- perhaps two men first, and then after Bergdahl is released, transferring the remaining three.

    Senior U.S. officials have also discussed the idea of transferring all five Taliban prisoners to Qatar first, before Bergdahl is freed.

    Under U.S. law, Congress must be consulted before any detainees are transferred from Guantanamo.