Obama: Bergdahl 'was never forgotten'

 

President Obama said Qatar officials will protect America's national security interests while holding five Taliban prisoners from Guantanmo Bay in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release.

"The Qatari government has given us assurances it will put in place measures to protect our national security," Obama said in a brief address Saturday in the Rose Garden, alongside Bergdahl's parents.

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The president said he called to "personally thank" Qatar officials for their cooperation, and reminded the U.S. that Bergdahl was never forgotten.

"While Bowe was gone, he was never forgotten," Obama said. "His parents thought about him and prayed for him every single day... The United States of America does not ever leave our men and women in uniform behind."

Obama embraced Bergdahl's mother, Jani and told her, "It's a good day." His father, Robert thanked those who helped in his son's recovery, noting Bowe's difficulty speaking English due to years of captivity.

Earlier Saturday, Obama announced that the Taliban released 28 year-old Bergdahl, after being captured in Afghanistan five years ago.

Then came multiple reports that U.S. officials released five Taliban members from Guantanamo Bay. Those members are: Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Nori, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Mohammad Nabi Omari, according to multiple reports.

Some Republicans have criticized Obama for negotiating with the Taliban for Bergdahl's release, arguing that it could put more American troops in danger.

Bergdahl's release caps off a week of news dominated by Obama's plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by 2016. The Idaho native is the last remaining American prisoner in Afghanistan.

This story was updated at 7:53 p.m.