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Taliban and US discuss prisoner swap deal in Doha

July 3, 2024

The Taliban and US representatives have been discussing a possible prisoner exchange in Doha. Several Afghans are being held in the Guantanamo Bay prison complex.

Qatar Afghanistan Taliban
Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban's spokesperson (center right), speaks with Russian Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov during a meeting in Doha, QatarImage: ASSOCIATED PRESS/picture alliance

Taliban delegation discussed the topic of a possible prisoner exchange with the US envoys in Doha on Wednesday.

The delegates spoke about exchanging two Americans who are being held captives in Afghanistan for Afghan captives being held at the secretive Guantanamo Bay prison by the US Government.

This talk occurred on the sidelines of the third UN-led Doha meeting on Monday, during which UN officials, Taliban authorities and the special envoys to Afghanistan met in Qatar.

'Afghanistan's conditions must be accepted'

The meeting aimed at "finding a solution," Taliban's Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters in Kabul on Wednesday.

"During our meetings, we talked about the two American citizens who are in prison in Afghanistan," Mujahid said. 

"But they must accept Afghanistan's conditions. We also have prisoners in America, prisoners in Guantanamo. We should free our prisoners in exchange for them," Mujahid added.

This undated photo released by the Taliban Interior Ministry on Sunday Feb. 11, 2024, shows Afghan prisoner Abdul Zahir Saber
Afghan prisoner Abdul Zahir was held in U.S. custody for more than 13 years at the Guantanamo Bay detention center Image: Taliban Interior Ministry/AP/icture alliance

Dozens of foreigners have been detained by the Taliban authorities since the group's return to power in August 2021.

US Special Representative Thomas West has been pressing for "the immediate and unconditional release of US citizens unjustly detained in Afghanistan,"  US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said on Tuesday.

US aid workers held hostage by Taliban

The Taliban did not say which prisoners it would release, but one is expected to be Ryan Corbett, a humanitarian worker who has been imprisoned without charge by Afghanistan's Taliban rulers since August 2022.

A "disturbing" phone call from Corbett in March has his family concerned about his declining mental and physical health, US broadcaster CBS reported.

In June, the UN warned that Corbett's "life could be at risk". They are urging Taliban authorities to give him "immediate access to medical treatment for his deteriorating health".

Another candidate for the exchange is an American woman, who was among at least 18 staff of an NGO called the International Assistance Mission (IAM). She and some other NGO workers were detained on accusations of carrying out Christian missionary work. 

Taliban to attend UN conference in Qatar

sp/ab (AFP, AP)