Lawmakers cool on Taliban prisoner swap

Senators from both parties said they were either opposed to a prisoner exchange outright, or that it should only be done as part of the final negotiations.

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“I personally don’t think that we negotiate under those lines,” said Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThe Hill's Morning Report: Can Trump close the deal with North Korea? Senate must save itself by confirming Mike Pompeo Poll: Menendez has 17-point lead over GOP challenger MORE (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “For me, it wouldn’t be acceptable.”

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinHow House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe Congress dangerously wields its oversight power in Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate MORE (D-Mich.) said he was opposed to any swaps prior to the talks beginning.

“They have to be a part of the negotiations,” Levin said.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Sarah Sanders: ‘Democrats are losing their war against women in the Trump administration’ MORE (R-Ariz.), who was Levin’s top Republican counterpart on the committee until this year, said he would only agree with an exchange as part of a final cease-fire agreement.

“That’s done at the completion of an agreement,” McCain said. “I’m opposed now.”

Other Republicans have raised concerns with holding any negotiations with the Taliban while the U.S. is still fighting them.

Sen. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying World Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party MORE (Ga.), the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he has always been opposed to making a deal on a prisoner exchange. “That’s not the way we deal with terrorists,” he said Thursday.

The negotiations with the Taliban got off to a troubling start this week after Afghan President Hamid Karzai pulled out of the talks when the Taliban called themselves the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” at their new Doha office, the name of the previous Taliban government in Afghanistan.