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 MenendezSteve Mnuchin, foreclosure king, now runs your US Treasury Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Senators to Trump: We support additional Iran sanctions MORE (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “For me, it wouldn’t be acceptable.”

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl LevinCarl LevinA package proposal for repatriation Silencing of Warren another example of hyperpartisan Senate GOP going nuclear over Gorsuch might destroy filibuster forever 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 McCainTrump fires opening salvo in budget wars Overnight Finance: Trump budget to boost military, slash nondefense spending | Senate confirms Commerce pick | House Intel chief won't subpoena tax returns Overnight Defense: Trump proposes 3B defense budget | Defense hawks say proposal falls short | Pentagon to probe Yemen raid 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 ChamblissSaxby ChamblissWyden hammers CIA chief over Senate spying Cruz is a liability Inside Paul Ryan’s brain trust 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.