US confirms freed Taliban hostages on German soil
November 21 2019 05:33 PM
Timothy Weeks and Kevin King speak to the camera while kept hostage by Taliban insurgents in an unkn
Timothy Weeks and Kevin King speak to the camera while kept hostage by Taliban insurgents in an unknown location, said to be Afghanistan (file photo)

AFP/Frankfurt am Main

Two Western hostages held for three years by the Taliban in Afghanistan landed in Germany Thursday after a prisoner exchange two days earlier, a US diplomat confirmed.

American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks landed overnight at the US Air Force's Ramstein airbase in western Germany, and will be staying nearby ‘for a period of evaluation and reintegration’, the US official said.

King and Weeks, both professors at the American University in Kabul, were kidnapped by gunmen wearing military uniforms in the heart of the Afghan capital in August 2016.

American ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told Fox News he had greeted the former hostages off the plane and handed King a US flag.

‘It's one of the most emotional things that I get to do... to represent (President Donald Trump) and the American people and have this moment with a freed hostage where I say, we never forgot about you,’ Grenell said.

He added that the exchange was a sign of ‘the power of diplomacy’, and thanked the Afghan government for its role in the swap for three high-ranking insurgent prisoners.

‘We got them back!’ Trump tweeted later Thursday.

Washington, Kabul and insurgent leaders have hailed the swap as an important step in peace negotiations for war-torn Afghanistan.

One of the men released in exchange for the Westerners was Anas Haqqani, brother of the Taliban's deputy leader.




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