Image: Bowe Bergdahl (left), who has been held hostage by the Taliban since his disappearance from his unit on June 30, 2009
Intelcenter  /  AFP - Getty Images
This still image provided on December 7, 2010 by IntelCenter shows someone that appears to be U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl (left), who has been held hostage by the Taliban since his disappearance from his unit on June 30, 2009.
msnbc.com news services
updated 1/5/2012 4:17:45 AM ET 2012-01-05T09:17:45

The family of the only U.S. soldier held by the Taliban expressed the hope he would be released "as soon as possible" following a possible deal to allow insurgents to open an office in Qatar.

The office plan is designed to enable the holding of peace talks with the United States.

Bowe Bergdahl, a 25-year-old Army sergeant from Hailey, Idaho, was taken prisoner June 30, 2009, in Afghanistan.

His parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, released a statement Wednesday through the Idaho National Guard expressing hope that their son would be returned home soon.

"Our only son, Bowe Bergdahl, has been held captive for two and a half years. We hope he will be released as soon as possible. We know that serious discussions among diplomats are the most likely way to make this happen, and for Bowe to be returned safely to us, his family," it added.

Video: Taliban releases purported tape of U.S. captive (on this page)

The Taliban announced Tuesday that they had reached a preliminary understanding to open the representative office in Qatar, marking an unprecedented step toward peace negotiations.

Went missing
Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was a member of the 1st Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Afghanistan when he went missing in June 2009. Three days later, the U.S. military declared him captured by the Taliban.

In May 2011, Robert Bergdahl posted an online appeal asking the government of Pakistan and its armed forces to help free his son.

Video: Pundit AWOL on support for POW (on this page)

In July, the NATO security force in Afghanistan said U.S. and NATO forces had made bringing Bergdahl home a top priority.

On Tuesday, the Afghan Taliban also asked for the release of prisoners held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Qatar office is seen by Western and Afghan officials as a crucial step to moving forward with secretive attempts to reach a negotiated end to a decade of war.

Slideshow: Living in the combat zone (on this page)

The Taliban statement pointedly made no mention of the Kabul government, set up after a U.S.-led invasion in 2001 ousted the Taliban from power.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Wednesday that Afghanistan agreed with U.S. efforts to talk with the Taliban, and the plan to open an office in Qatar, because they could prevent further conflict and the deaths of innocent civilians.

The branch of the Taliban believed to be holding Bergdahl operates on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and may be based in tribal lands in Pakistan, according to reports by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: Taliban releases purported tape of U.S. captive

  1. Transcript of: Taliban releases purported tape of U.S. captive

    MADDOW: We have some breaking news tonight from Afghanistan . For the third time, the Taliban has released video that Taliban spokespeople say is of a U.S. soldier who was captured in Afghanistan last June. You`ll recall this soldier`s name. He`s Army Private Bowe Bergdahl. He`s originally from Idaho . He was last seen living his base in eastern Afghanistan . The Taliban has consistently claimed that they have had him in its custody. Well, today, a group calling itself the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan released this video you`re seeing here. They claim that it shows Private Bergdahl with a beard doing pushups, presumably to show that he is still fit and healthy. Two weeks after Private Bergdahl disappeared, the Taliban released their first video of him, showed him with a shaved head , sitting on a rug with food in front of him. He says in that tape, he said in that tape that he was scared he wouldn`t be able to go home. Then, in December, the Taliban released a second video also reportedly showing him. This one showed him in full Army uniform. Now, in the third video that was released today, Private Bergdahl begs to go home. He asks for the return of all U.S. troops and for an end to the war. You see that footage there, also Private Bergdahl looking quite different now with a full, grown out beard. We don`t have further details to release to you. And, of course, we`re going on what the Taliban says this is, and what it appears to be. It`s not yet confirmed. We will be right back.

Photos: Living in the combat zone

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  1. U.S. infantry soldier Sgt. Michael Irwin relaxes on his bed at a Combat Operating Post Charkh in south Logar Province, Afghanistan, in September 2009. The post is southwest of Kabul, in a mostly rural area dotted by fruit orchards and corn fields. This group of soldiers was the first non-Afghan patrol force in this area. Irwin serves with the 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A pile of extra mattresses offers a recreational opportunity at COP Charkh. From left, Sgt. John Virgadamo, Spc. Matthew Ledford and Spc. Brian Lucey watch as Pvt. 2 Adam Ramsey takes the leap. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. From left, Sgt. Michael Irwin, Spc. Daniel Brand and Sgt. Daniel Hernandez shave and wash their faces at the post in Charkh. Infantry soldiers are generally young—most between 19 and 25--which helps them endure the grueling physical demands of the infantry. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. U.S. soldiers patrol in Logar Province. The troops spent most of their time patrolling on foot, walking three to five miles a day. They met with villagers and village officials to inquire about the community and to provide security or humanitarian assistance if needed. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Spc. John Alamo returns fire at enemy combatants during a patrol in Logar Province. The troops avoid traveling in vehicles, which are more likely to hit roadside bombs. But traveling on foot makes them more susceptible to small-arms fire. Firefights are frequent when they patrol during the summer months. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Spc. Justin Rottenberry sleeps in a secured area while on several day patrol from COP Charkh. The soldiers in the unit were based in Fort Drum in upstate New York but came from all over the country. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Soldiers attend a mission briefing in the cafeteria at the Charkh post. The briefings happen most evenings, particularly before missions to plan for the next day. From left, Spc. Darren Stovall, Spc. Adlin Zukic, Pfc. Ryan Cooley, Spc. Devon Singleton, Spc. Justin Morris and Sgt. Daniel Hernandez. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Pfc. Cody Marshall smokes a cigarette at the Combat Operating Post. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Pfc. Ryan Cooley sits on a pile of water bottle supplies at the post in Charkh. Photojournalist Erin Trieb says the lives of soldiers on tour get stripped down to the essentials--eat, sleep, and survive. Staying hydrated during long patrols through dry, dusty mountains and hot valleys is a critical part of the survival equation. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Soldiers take cover while an Afghan National Army soldier returns to the platoon with information, in the Tangi Valley, Wardack Province, Afghanistan, Sept. 2009. The U.S. soldiers on the left are from the 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Staff Sgt. Cody Anderson rests after a patrol in the Tangi Valley, Wardack Province, Afghanistan. Anderson is part of the 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. Sgt. Anderson had a difficult time when he returned home to America. He is the first soldier profiled in our video report on the challenges of post-traumatic stress disorder. Watch it here. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Soldiers attend to Spc. James Rogers, who was injured when an IED detonated underneath his military vehicle in the Tangi Valley. The soldiers were from the 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Soldiers open mail and care packages in their room at the post at Charkh. Because of the remoteness of the outpost, care packages took weeks to arrive. From left, Pvt. 2 Adam Ramsey, Spc. Aldin Zukic and Spc. Jason Vann of the 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A soldier looks at the Sports Illustrated magazine swimsuit issue at the post at Charkh. The magazine arrived in a care package; no pornography is allowed. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Infantry soldiers Spc. Daniel Brand, center, and Spc. Darren Stovall, far right run toward a guard tower to return fire after the Combat Operating Post at Charkh was attacked. Brand was exercising in his physical training clothes at the time of the attack and didn't have time to change into uniform. The soldiers are from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Spc. Matthew Ledford rests after a firefight at the Charkh post. This company experienced some of the most intense fighting in the region. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Spc. Aldin Zukic, left, and Pfc. Donald Garab roughhouse in their room in the post at Charkh. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Sgt. Waylon Frederick (left), Sgt. Brian Cattaneo and Spc. Joseph Pohl play cards during down time at the Charkh combat post. The soldiers are from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Spc. Dirk Terpstra, left, and Sgt. Darren Stovall practice high kicks to pass the time at the Charkh combat post. They are part of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division.

    Terpstra, who had experienced a personal trauma before enlisting in the military, committed suicide after his return home. In our video report on the difficulties some soldiers face when they return home, his mother Gail says: “He didn’t share. He didn’t open up.” (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. From left, Pvt. 2 Adam Ramsey, Pfc. Ryan Cooley, Spc. Jason Vann and Spc. Aldin Zukic pass the time by smoking cigarettes. They serve in 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. Photojournalist Erin Trieb noted: "These guys are with each other day in and day out, they really grow together .... The bond they forge when fighting together is unbreakable. They’re like brothers."

    During and after his tour in Afghanistan, Adam Ramsey experienced severe depression, leading him to attempt suicide. He describes his difficult return home in our video report . (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Spc. Chris Conte of Bravo Company stands guard while on patrol in the south of Logar Province. He could hear gunfire in the distance of another platoon being fired upon and retaliating. The company had been on patrol since 2 a.m., so Conte was guarding an Afghan dwelling while his fellow troops were taking a rest. The soldiers detained a suspected insurgent that day. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Staff Sgt. DeAndre Daniels investigates a vehicle blown up by an IED on a patrol in central Logar Province. The vehicle was hit by an IED 15 minutes earlier. A search for the person who detonated the bomb turned up nothing. It took 10 hours for the soldiers and photographer to be evacuated back to the outpost Daniels is part of 2nd Platoon, Alpha Battery, 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Spc. Christopher Ostrander sits in an MRAP, wounded after an IED detonated under his vehicle while on patrol in central Logar Province. Initially, Ostrander's wound appeared slight -- a cut on the head. But he was taken by helicopter to a trauma center where it was discovered that his skull was cracked. He is with the 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 4th Battery, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. (Erin Trieb / VII Mentor Program) Back to slideshow navigation
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