BOISE -- The family of the only U.S. soldier held by the Taliban is optimistic about a possible deal that would allow insurgents to open an office in Gulf nation of Qatar with the aim of holding talks with the United States.
Bowe Bergdahl, a 25-year-old Army sergeant from Hailey, Idaho, was taken prisoner June 30, 2009, in Afghanistan.
His parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, released a statement Wednesday through the Idaho National Guard expressing hope their son would be returned home safely as soon as possible.
The family says that serious discussions among diplomats are the most likely way to make this happen.
Bergdahl could be a bargaining chip
The Taliban announced Tuesday that they had reached a preliminary understanding to open the representative office in Qatar, marking an unprecedented step toward peace negotiations.
One reason analysts say the Taliban wants to talk is possibly to to broker the release of Taliban leaders detained at Guantanamo Bay. The Washington Post reports an Afghan official suggested the Taliban might use Bergdahl as a bargaining chip.
Bergdahl is the only U.S. service member known to be held by the Taliban. The Associated Press has names of two Guantanamo prisoners it believes the Taliban would want released in an exchange.
NBC Pentagon Correspondent: Pentagon Tight-Lipped
NBC's Chief Pentagon Correspondent tells KTVB he specifically asked about possible negotiations with the United States, but the Pentagon is being tight-lipped.
Officials here at the Pentagon refuse to discuss even the possibility that negotiations are underway, NBC Chief Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski said. They consider such kinds of talks too sensitive to talk about publicly, but they do repeat the administration's mantra that any solution to the war in Afghanistan will have to end in some kind of negotiations. They just don't want to talk about where those negotiations might be.
The entire Bergdahl family state released to the media Wednesday:
We are optimistic about the possibility of diplomatic discussions between Taliban officials and government officials from other nations, including the United States. Our only son, Bowe Bergdahl, has been held captive for two and a half years. We hope he will be released as soon as possible. We know that serious discussions among diplomats are the most likely way to make this happen, and for Bowe to be returned safely to us, his family. To Bowe, we want to assure you that you haven t been forgotten.
Here is an earlier news story on the Bergdahl situation
KABUL-- For the first time the Taliban is publicly expressing interest in negotiating with Washington. According to the Washington Post, those talks could involve captured Idaho soldier Bowe Bergdahl and it could lead to a possible prisoner exchange deal.
Tuesday's announcement marked a major departure for a militant group that had long said it would not negotiate while foreign troops remained in Afghanistan. One Taliban motivation for negotiating with Washington involves brokering the release of Taliban leaders detained in the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. An Afghan official suggested to the Washington Post that the Taliban might use captured U.S. soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, as a bargaining chip.
Analysts say Taliban leaders have also expressed hope that the United States could bring them out of diplomatic isolation by lobbying to have the group s leaders removed from international terrorist sanctions lists. But U.S. officials acknowledge that any peace deal with the Taliban, which would probably allow the group back into Kabul through some sort of power-sharing arrangement, would be filled with challenges and moral dilemmas.
The last time Idaho received news on Bergdahl was last month when the Daily Beast reported that he tried to escape from his captors early in the fall.
Bowe Bergdahl is a 25-year-old Army sergeant from Hailey, Idaho, who was taken prisoner June 30, 2009 in Afghanistan.