On Sunday, the Taliban in Afghanistan said it suspended its mediation with the U.S. to swap Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners who are being held at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prisoner facility.
The suspension of talks halted what many had considered the best opportunity to date of securing the soldier’s freedom. Bergdahl, who is 27, was captured in 2009.
In a harsh statement in Pashto emailed to the AP, a spokesman for the Taliban blamed the current political situation in Afghanistan for the current suspension of talks.
An official from the U.S. with knowledge of the current negotiations said the talks were not suspended due to issues between the Taliban and the U.S. He did not elaborate and asked to remain anonymous since he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Bergdahl who is from Idaho was last seen in a December video that was seen as a Taliban proof of life. It is believed that Bergdahl is being held close to the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Taliban spokesperson said the talks with the U.S. were being mediated by Qatar, where an office had been opened last June by the Taliban.
The Taliban spokesman would not explain what political situation taking place in Afghanistan had led to the talks being suspended. He would not say when or if the talks would resume.
Afghanistan is in a presidential campaign leading up to the election on April 5. Hamid Karzai the current president cannot run as he has had two terms and the Afghan constitution does not allow a third.
The State Department in the U.S. would not acknowledge any negotiations, but an official from the U.S. previously told new outlets that indirect negotiations were going on.
In response to the statement by the Taliban on Sunday, a spokesperson from the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan said that Bergdahl has been held far too long and no discussion can be made about any efforts being taken to gain his return.
Efforts for a swap are thought to be a concession to President Karzai.