WASHINGTON — Because the Biden administration considers whether it ought to restful pull remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan in the coming months, some pains for the destiny of an American who could well per chance well also perchance be left behind: an kidnapped contractor believed held by a Taliban-linked militant body of workers.
On the one-yr anniversary of Mark Frerichs’ abduction, family and other supporters are urging the Biden administration no longer to withdraw extra troops with out the Navy oldschool being released from captivity. Frerichs became as soon as kidnapped one yr in the past Sunday whereas working in the country on engineering initiatives. U.S. officials deem he is in the custody of the Haqqani community, although the Taliban have not any longer publicly acknowledged holding him.
“We’re assured that he’s restful alive and successfully,” his sister, Charlene Cakora, acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press. “We don’t have any thinking that he’s lifeless or that he’s injured.”
For U.S. diplomats, Frerichs’ captivity is a share of a noteworthy better geopolitical puzzle that goals to balance bringing troops house, after a two-decade war, with ensuring regional peace and balance. Biden administration officials have made definite that they are reviewing a February 2020 peace deal between the United States and the Taliban, concerned by whether the Taliban are meeting its commitment to reduce violence in Afghanistan.
The Trump administration, which had made the release of hostages and detainees a priority, ended with out having brought house Frerichs, who’s from Lombard, Illinois. He is one of a number of American citizens the Biden administration is inheriting responsibility for, including journalist Austin Tice, who went missing in Syria in 2012, in addition to U.S. Marine Trevor Reed and Michigan company govt Paul Whelan, both of whom are imprisoned in Russia.
It is unclear to what extent, if at all, Frerichs’ destiny shall be refined by the declining American navy presence in Afghanistan dedicated to by the Trump administration. Days sooner than President Joe Biden took office, the Trump administration introduced that it had met its purpose of reducing the quantity of troops in Afghanistan to about 2,500, half of a broader opinion to win all forces by Could per chance additionally.
The Biden administration must determine how to kind out that commitment.
New Secretary of Assert Antony Blinken held his first name Thursday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and told him the administration became as soon as reviewing the peace deal. A Assert Department description of the dialog did no longer point out Frerichs. Individually, the Pentagon acknowledged the Taliban’s refusal to meet commitments to reduce violence in Afghanistan is raising questions about whether all U.S. troops shall be in a position to proceed away by Could per chance additionally.
Frerichs’ supporters are concerned that a drawdown of navy personnel from Afghanistan leaves the U.S. with out the leverage it wants to demand his release.
“Additional troop withdrawals that are no longer conditioned upon the release of American hostages will likely produce it tougher to subsequently secure their release,” the 2 Democratic senators from Illinois, Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, wrote Biden in a letter provided to the AP.
In an interview, Duckworth acknowledged she wrote Biden and Blinken to stress “that this wants to be a priority, that we need to bring him house.” She acknowledged Lloyd Austin, the original defense secretary, had given assurances that any negotiations about navy presence would include dialogue about detainees “as antagonistic to us sincere unilaterally pulling out of there.”
Representatives of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, which advocates for hostages, told original nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan in a dialog during the presidential transition interval about concerns that Frerichs and Paul Overby, an American creator who disappeared in Afghanistan in 2014, weren’t adequately prioritized during discussions with the Taliban, according to the group’s govt director, Margaux Ewen.
The Assert Department is offering $5 million for information leading to Frerichs’ return.
“American citizen Mark Frerichs has spent a yr in captivity. We will now not stop working unless we secure his safe return house,” acknowledged Assert Department spokesman Ned Price.
Frerichs remains in Afghanistan despite a yr of regular diplomatic negotiations, including peace talks in November with then-Secretary of Assert Pompeo and Taliban and Afghan negotiators. The U.S. and Taliban signed a peace deal remaining February, however noteworthy to the family’s frustration, Frerichs’ return became as soon as no longer made a predicate for the settlement even supposing he had been kidnapped weeks earlier.
“I don’t desire any troops to initiate packing up and heading out unless Mark gets house safely, because of this of I don’t think we surely have a leg to stand on after they’re all out of there,” Cakora acknowledged. “You don’t proceed away American citizens behind, and I sincere truly desire to produce certain that that he’s house safe.”
Blinken told newshounds Wednesday that the Biden administration mandatory to settle an in depth survey at that deal, saying. “We need to note exactly what is in the settlement” sooner than deciding how to proceed. He acknowledged the administration had requested Trump’s particular envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, to remain on the job for continuity’s sake.
In his name with Ghani the following day, according to the Assert Department, Blinken expressed “sturdy diplomatic reinforce” for the peace assignment however acknowledged the U.S. became as soon as reviewing the peace deal to assess whether the Taliban had been living up to their commitment to “minimize ties with terrorist teams.”
There had been other internal authorities discussions in the Trump administration.
The Taliban had requested for the release of a combatant imprisoned on drug fees in the U.S. as half a broader effort to resolve points with Afghanistan. The quiz led to dialogue between the Assert Department and the Justice Department about whether this kind of release could well per chance well also happen, even though it indirectly did no longer, according to an individual aware of the subject who became as soon as no longer authorized to focus on the deepest discussions and spoke on condition of anonymity.
It is unclear whether those conversations will exercise up in the original administration.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
Observe Eric Tucker at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP
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