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Obama: 'no apologies' on deal to free Bergdahl from Taliban

U.S. President Barack Obama watches as Jami Bergdahl (L) and Bob Bergdahl (C) talk about the release of their son, prisoner of war U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, during a statement in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington May 31, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Barack Obama watches as Jami Bergdahl (L) and Bob Bergdahl (C) talk about the release of their son, prisoner of war U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, during a statement in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington May 31, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

By Jeff Mason

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Thursday he would make "no apologies" for agreeing to a deal that released Taliban detainee Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, despite controversy in Washington that Congress was not notified ahead of time.

"I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents and that the American people understand that this is somebody's child," Obama said.

"This is not some abstraction, this is not some political football," he told a news conference. "As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, I am responsible for those kids."

Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in 2009. Some soldiers have said he walked away from his unit, and have alleged at least six soldiers died trying to find him.

He was freed last week in a controversial prisoner-swap deal that saw five Taliban militants released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and flown to Qatar.

Republican members of the U.S. Congress have said President Barack Obama set a dangerous precedent with the swap for Bergdahl and might have broken the law.

Obama called the uproar "par for the course" and said he is "never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington"

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton)

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