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Biden calls for Taliban to release US hostage before legitimacy recognized


US President Joe Biden (Reuters file photo)

US President Joe Biden has called on the Taliban to release American hostage Mark Frerichs if they expect the United States to recognize them as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

"Two years ago tomorrow, U.S. Navy veteran Mark Frerichs was taken hostage in Afghanistan. A civil engineer, he spent a decade helping the people of Afghanistan. He has done nothing wrong. And yet, for two years the Taliban has held him captive," Biden said in a statement on Sunday.

"Threatening the safety of Americans or any innocent civilians is always unacceptable, and hostage-taking is an act of particular cruelty and cowardice," he said. "The Taliban must immediately release Mark before it can expect any consideration of its aspirations for legitimacy. This is not negotiable."

US Navy veteran Frerichs was abducted in February 2020. The US State Department has offered a reward of up to $5 million for information that leads to the recovery of the US soldier.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also called on the Taliban to release Frerichs. "We will continue working to bring him home."

The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. American forces occupied the country for about two decades on the pretext of fighting against the Taliban. But as the US forces left Afghanistan, the Taliban stormed into Kabul, weakened by continued foreign occupation.

Following the 9/11 attacks, the United States invaded and occupied Afghanistan, despite the fact that no Afghan was involved in the attacks. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans died in the US war on the country.

In his first congressional testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee members on September 28, Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the war in Afghanistan a "strategic failure". He added, "Thereís no way else to describe that."


Mark Frerichs, a 59-year-old U.S. Navy veteran from Lombard, Illinois, who worked in Afghanistan for a decade on development projects was kidnapped a month before the February 2020 U.S. troop pullout deal was signed and was transferred to the Haqqani network

The former US special representative for Afghanistan said in October last year that the United States failed to build a "democratic Afghanistan" after two decades of war in the country, adding that the US military was "losing ground each year" to the Taliban.

Zalmay Khalilzad served under both former Republican president Donald Trump and Biden as the special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation.

He led several rounds of talks with the Taliban in Qatar that resulted in the Trump administrationís agreement to leave Afghanistan by May 2021. Biden pulled out US troops from the country by August 31.

 

LINK: https://www.ansarpress.com/english/26586


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