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A senior Taliban figure, Haji Bashir Noorzai, has been released after decades of detention by the United States and arrived in Kabul on Monday (September 19) as part of a prisoner exchange.

The Taliban freed American engineer Mark Frerichs in exchange for the Afghan tribal leader linked to the Taliban, whom the United States had held on drugs charges since 2005. Afghan state media reports said Noorzai had been among the last Afghans held at Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Speaking at a news conference after his arrival back to Afghanistan, Noorzai said, "I believe that if God willing, my exchange would create a peace route between Afghanistan and America."

The United States has been pushing for the release of Frerichs, including after the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, as U.S.-led foreign forces were withdrawing.

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