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Afghanistan: Taliban US swap deal angers Karzai

2nd Jun 2014
Afghanistan: Taliban US swap deal angers Karzai

Afghan president Hamid Karzai has reacted angrily to a United States deal to swap five senior Taliban militants at Guantanamo Bay for an American soldier held captive by the Taliban for five years.

The Afghan detainees were released from the US prison in Cuba and handed to Qatar, which mediated the deal.

The freed American, Bowe Bergdahl, is in a good condition and undergoing medical care at a US military hospital in Germany before flying home.

The operation to release the 28-year-old sergeant on Saturday was so secret that President Karzai was not told until after it had happened.

After calling in Afghan officials responsible for trying to make peace with the Taliban on Afghan terms, his government has expressed strong opposition to the US deal. A statement claimed that handing the Taliban fighters over to the third power, Qatar, was against international law, the BBC reports.

Shops in Sergeant Bergdahl’s home town of Hailey, Idaho, announced his release.

Photo: AFP / Getty Images North America

Earlier in a rare public statement, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar called the release a great victory.

Meanwhile, the swap has sparked a political row in the US. Republican Party politicians said it sets a dangerous precedent and believed it would put other Americans in Afghanistan at risk.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, on a routine visit to Afghanistan, defended the deal and called it an exchange of prisoners of war.

Mr Hagel believed he was justified in not telling Congress until after the deal was done. “This was essentially, in our opinion, to save the life of Sergeant Bergdahl.”

Republicans doubt that the Qatar government would be able to guarantee promised restrictions on their movements.

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