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Obama Makes 'No Apologies' on Bergdahl Release

by VOA News June 05, 2014

President Barack Obama said on Thursday he would make "no apologies" for agreeing to a deal that released Taliban detainee U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, despite controversy in Washington that Congress was not notified ahead of time.

"I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents and that the American people understand that this is somebody's child,'' Obama said at a news conference after a Group of Seven nations summit in Brussels, Belgium.

'We saw an opportunity and we seized it and I make no apologies for it,' Obama reiterated.

The president also addressed the fierce criticism from Republicans and some Democratic allies that he did not sufficiently inform Congress over the exchange of five Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl who was kept in captivity for nearly five years.

"This is not some abstraction, this is not some political football," he said. "As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, I am responsible for those kids.

'We don't condition whether not we make the effort to tget them back,' Obama added.

Taliban weigh in

The Taliban also released a statement on Thursday, claiming the release of Bergdahl shows the Taliban have legitimacy as a movement capable of negotiating successful deals with the United States, a Taliban commander told Reuters.

"This gives the Islamic Emirates more legitimacy in front of the world. It shows we are able to deal directly with the Americans and also successfully," said Maulvi Mubarak, shadow Taliban chief of the Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar.

Mubarak said the deal would also boost morale among the Taliban's ranks, including the hundreds of men under his command in three neighboring districts.

"This will give us more courage and determination to carry on this holy task," he told Reuters.

Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in 2009. Some soldiers have said he walked away from his unit, and have alleged at least six soldiers died trying to find him.

He was freed last week in a controversial prisoner-swap deal that saw five Taliban militants released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and flown to Qatar.

Some Republican members of the U.S. Congress have said Obama set a dangerous precedent with the swap for Bergdahl and might have broken the law.

'I am never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington. That is par for the course,' Obama said.

Some material for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.

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