WASHINGTON, May 31 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who has been held captive for nearly five years by the Taliban, has been released and is now in U.S. custody, the Obama administration said on Saturday.
"On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return," President Barack Obama said in a statement.
"Sergeant Bergdahl's recovery is a reminder of America's unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield," he said.
Bergdahl, who was captured in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, is now under the care of the U.S. military after being handed over by his captors in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in a statement.
The handover followed indirect negotiations between the United States and the Taliban, with the government of Qatar serving as the mediator. As part of Bergdahl's release, the United States agreed to turn over five Taliban detainees at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the custody of Qatar.
Hagel said, "As of today, I informed Congress of the decision to transfer five detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar," with which Washington has coordinately closely to ensure that security measures are in place and that the national security of the United States will not be compromised.
Hagel thanked the Emir of Qatar for his instrumental role in facilitating the return of Bergdahl.
Obama, in his statement, also expressed his thanks to the Emir of Qatar, whose "personal commitment to this effort is a testament to the partnership between our two countries."
Obama also thanked the government of Afghanistan throughout the efforts to secure the release, voicing hope "Bergdahl's recovery could potentially open the door for broader discussions among Afghans about the future of their country by building confidence that it is possible for all sides to find common ground."
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