New office may help negotiate for release of Idaho soldier held in Afghanistan

kkreller@idahostatesman.comJanuary 4, 2012 

The Taliban is opening a political office in Qatar to hold talks with the United States, The Washington Post reported. U.S. officials hope negotiations will slow a Taliban insurgency and draw down troops in Afghanistan.

The talks also could involve a possible agreement to swap detainees at Guantanamo for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Bergdahl, 25, of Hailey was captured by the Taliban on June 30, 2009, while serving with his Alaska-based Army unit as a private. He is the only U.S. service member captured in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Bergdahl’s family released the following statement:

“We are optimistic about the possibility of diplomatic discussions between Taliban officials and government officials from other nations, including the United States.

“Our only son, Bowe Bergdahl, has been held captive for two and a half years. We hope he will be released as soon as possible. We know that serious discussions among diplomats are the most likely way to make this happen, and for Bowe to be returned safely to us, his family. To Bowe, we want to assure you that you haven’t been forgotten.”

In the years since Bergdahl’s capture, there have been snippets of news, including videos of a bearded, pale man in the mountains of Afghanistan and isolated reports of an escape attempt. The Army has twice promoted Bergdahl, including the latest to sergeant in June 2011.

Meanwhile, the people of Hailey are trying to keep Bergdahl’s image in the forefront. Yellow ribbons tied throughout town remind residents that he remains captive.

Kathleen Kreller: 377-6418

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