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U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference after attending the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting at the Conference Palace in Jeddah May 14, 2014. REUTERS/Mandel Ngan/Pool U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference after attending the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting at the Conference Palace in Jeddah May 14, 2014. REUTERS/Mandel Ngan/Pool  

Prisoner Exchange Won’t Bring Peace Talks, Taliban Says

In direct contradiction to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s statement that the negotiations leading to Bergdahl’s release “will [maybe] be a new opening that can produce an agreement,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that ”It won’t help the peace process in any way, because we don’t believe in the peace process.”

While the exchange has been hailed by the administration as an important diplomatic step, with one senior administration official saying ”U.S. efforts to facilitate reconciliation with the Taliban began in November 2010, and since May 2011 the recovery of Sgt. Bergdahl has been a central element of our reconciliation efforts,” Taliban representatives have been less irenic, The Long War Journal reports.

Emir Mullah Mohammed Omar called the return of the detainees a “great victory” and a “huge and vivid triumph,” bringing “the glad tidings of liberation of the whole country [that] reassures us that our aspirations are on the verge of fulfillment.” He also thanked ”the detainers and keepers of the American prisoner ‘Bergdahl’” for their “significant role in this colossal victory.”

“I want to congratulate again all who had something to do with this,” Hagel said in an interview Sunday.