Washington: US President Joe Biden has called on the Taliban to “immediately release” the man believed to be its last American hostage, withholding any hope of recognizing the militants’ rule in Afghanistan until he is free.
The announcement came on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the kidnapping of Mark Frerichs, a US Navy veteran who had spent a decade in Afghanistan working as a civil engineer.
“The Taliban must immediately release Mark before it can expect any consideration of its aspirations for legitimacy. This is not negotiable,” Biden said in a statement.
“Threatening the safety of Americans or any innocent civilians is always unacceptable, and hostage-taking is an act of particular cruelty and cowardice,” he added.
According to reports, Taliban negotiators have previously suggested a prisoner exchange, swapping Frerichs for Bashir Noorzai, an Afghan tribal warlord and alleged Taliban associate imprisoned for life in the United States for smuggling heroin into the country.
But the US has expressed little interest in the deal.