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White House willing to negotiate for terrorists to release Army soldier

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Army,Afghanistan,National Security,Terrorism,Taliban,Bowe Bergdahl

President Obama is willing to negotiate with the Taliban for the release of an Army soldier, his spokesman said when asked if the United States still has a policy of not negotiating with terrorists.

"We are not involved in active negotiations with the Taliban," White House press secretary Jay Carney said, emphasizing that Obama's team supports an "Afghan-led" reconciliation with the Taliban. "We will want to talk with the Taliban about the safe return of Sgt. [Bowe] Bergdahl."

The U.S. has reportedly attempted a prisoner exchange, either through negotiation with the Taliban or the Haqqani network, which the State Department designated as a foreign terrorist organization in 2012 and is believed to be holding Bergdahl.

"Until now, the administration has said publicly only that the negotiations included talks about releasing the five prisoners from Guantánamo to the custody of the government in Qatar -- which some Democrats and Republicans in Congress have opposed -- and not that the five might be exchanged for Sergeant Bergdahl," according to the New York Times.

The Washington Post suggested that the latest attempt at negotiating for Bergdahl's release is motivated by the possibility that the Afghan government will not allow American troops to remain in the country after 2014, meaning that "the already declining U.S. leverage with the Taliban would be reduced."

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