Taliban trade US soldier for 5 Gitmo detainees
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The only American soldier held captive in Afghanistan was freed on Saturday in exchange for the release of five Taliban prisoners from the US-run Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in Cuba.
US President Barack Obama announced the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban’s captivity after five years and thanked the Amir of Qatar for playing a key role in the prisoner swap.
“Today the American people are pleased that we will be able to welcome home Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years,” said Obama, who called the soldier’s parents to inform them about the good news.
“For his assistance in helping to secure our soldier's return, I extend my deepest appreciation to the Amir of Qatar. The Amir’s personal commitment to this effort is a testament to the partnership between our two countries,” Obama said.
He added the US was also grateful for the support of government of Afghanistan throughout their efforts to secure Sergeant Bergdahl’s release.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to brief him on the development and to discuss Obama’s announcement this week about US efforts there.
“Our nation has a sober and solemn duty to ensure that every single American who signs up to serve our country comes home.”
Kerry also extended his personal gratitude to the Government of Qatar – and especially to the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who played an instrumental role in returning Bergdahl home.
“We work every day with Qatar on a range of critical foreign policy priorities. This effort – one that was personally so close to our hearts here – exemplifies how vital our partnership with Qatar is and will remain,” said the Secretary of State.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sgt. Bergdahl was now under the care of the US military after being handed over by his captors in Afghanistan. “We will give him all the support he needs to help him recover from this ordeal, and we are grateful that he will soon be reunited with his family,” he said.
Hagel also informed Congress of the decision to transfer five detainees from Guantánamo Bay to Qatar. “The United States has coordinated closely with Qatar to ensure that security measures are in place and the national security of the United States will not be compromised.
“I appreciate the efforts of the Emir of Qatar to put these measures in place, and I want to thank him for his instrumental role in facilitating the return of Sgt. Bergdahl,” he said.
General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said:"It is our ethos that we never leave a fallen comrade. Today we have back in our ranks the only remaining captured soldier from our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Welcome home SGT Bowe Bergdahl.”
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