Biden makes demand to Taliban
The US government has said there is no chance of Washington recognizing the Taliban as the legitimate Afghan government until US Navy veteran Mark Frerichs is released, two years after he went missing in Kabul.
Washington believes that Frerichs – who was working as a civil engineer in the Afghan capital – was kidnapped in January 2020. Though the US government suspects that he was taken by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, the Taliban has previously denied that any of its affiliates are holding him.
In May 2020, the Taliban’s political spokesman told AP that they “don’t have any information about the missing American.” Another Taliban official was quoted as saying that the group told Washington both “formally and informally” they were not aware of Frerichs’ whereabouts.
Ahead of the second anniversary of Frerichs' disappearance, on Monday US President Joe Biden demanded the veteran’s release and warned that recognition of the Taliban government – which took power in August last year, ousting the US-backed Afghan government – would not be considered unless the demand is met.
“Threatening the safety of Americans or any innocent civilians is always unacceptable, and hostage-taking is an act of particular cruelty and cowardice,” Biden declared. “The Taliban must immediately release Mark before it can expect any consideration of its aspirations for legitimacy. This is not negotiable.”
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price echoed the same sentiment, adding that “the legitimacy the Taliban seek is impossible to consider while they hold a US citizen hostage.”
“Mark is a civil engineer who was helping with construction projects for the benefit of the Afghan people when he was taken captive. Despite his innocence, he remains held hostage by the Taliban and its affiliates,” Price alleged, urging the Taliban to “disavow the practice of hostage-taking.”