KABUL - The Afghan Taliban said on Friday that they had issued a new video tape of a U.S. soldier who was captured this summer, and added that in it he asks his government to take part in a prisoner exchange deal.
A man who says he is private Bowe Bergdahl appears in a short clip from the tape seen on the internet video sharing site YouTube (www.YouTube.com)
He is wearing sunglasses and a U.S. military style uniform including a military helmet, and details his name, hometown and says he is a prisoner of war of the Taliban. It is not clear when the video was made.
A spokesman for the Taliban said Bergdahl also urges the U.S. government to make a prisoner swap deal for his release with the Islamists, but Reuters was not able to access any such comments in online excerpts from the video by 9:00 a.m. British time.
He speaks in English and asks for a (prisoner) swap, Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by phone from an undisclosed location.
The soldier, who was 23 when he was captured by the Taliban in southeastern Afghanistan in late June, was in good health, Mujahid said. He declined to provide further details about the contents of the video.
NATO-led forces in Afghanistan referred all questions to U.S. central command in Florida, who were not immediately available for comment.
In July, Bergdahl appeared in a video urging the U.S. government to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. The Pentagon denounced those images as Taliban propaganda that they said violated international law.
The capture and detention of the soldier comes amid the bloodiest period in Afghanistan since the Taliban's ouster by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.
To try and quell mounting violence, Washington has began the gradual dispatch of some 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, before starting to pull them out in July 2011.
There are about 110,000 foreign troops, more than half of them Americans, fighting the militants.
(Reporting by Sayed Salahuddin and Jonathon Burch; Editing by Emma Graham-Harrison and Sugita Katyal)