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Iran Press TV

The US administration defends deal with Taliban, looks for more "breakthrough"

Iran Press TV

Mon Jun 2, 2014 12:3AM GMT

The administration of US President Barack Obama defends a prisoner swap deal with the Taliban militant group in Afghanistan which resulted in the release of a captive American soldier in exchange for five former Guantanamo prisoners.

The Secretary of Defense defended the nature of the deal during a pre-scheduled trip to Bagram Air Field.

"We have strongly supported an Afghan-led effort to come to an agreement with the Taliban as you know we had engaged with the Taliban up until 2012, they broke off those negotiations we have had no formal relationship since the so may this would be a new opening that can produce an agreement," Chuck Hagel said.

Appearing on ABC's 'This Week' Sunday morning, the National Security Adviser also defended the deal with Taliban to bringing home a captive American soldier.

'Sergeant Bergdahl wasn't simply a hostage, he was an American prisoner of war, captured on the battlefield. We have a sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our Republic to do our utmost to bring back our men and women who were taken in battle. And we did that in this instance,' said Susan.

'Regardless of who may be holding an American prisoner of war, we must do our best to bring him or her back,' she added.

Rice made the remarks as critics both at home and abroad have taken a swipe at the White House over the controversial deal with the militant group.

The Afghan government, however, has said that it has never been informed by the US administration about the negotiation, while criticizing Washington for transferring the freed Taliban prisoners to Qatar.

The Afghan Foreign Ministry described the transfer of former Taliban detainees to a third country as against the international law.

Senior Republican lawmakers have also lambasted Obama for negotiating with the Taliban.

'Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Berghdal's release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans," said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), the Senate Armed Services ranking member and House Armed Services chairman, respectively, in a joint statement.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also attacked the White House for the deal.

'I do not think the way to deal with terrorists is by releasing other violent terrorists,' he said while speaking on ABC's 'This Week' Sunday morning.

Earlier in the day, the five militants arrived in Qatar after being freed from the Guantanamo prison in a swap deal for US soldier, Bowe Bergdahl.

Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has expressed hope that the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl would lead to a new breakthrough with the Taliban.

Washington's prisoner swap deal with the Taliban and its willingness for more negotiations with the militant group comes more than a decade after US military forces invaded Afghanistan under the pretext of destroying the Afghanistan's militancy.

DT/DT



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