1 June 2014 Last updated at 12:37 ET
Taliban's Mullah Omar celebrates prisoner-swap 'victory'
Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has issued a rare public statement hailing the exchange of five Guantanamo Bay detainees for a Taliban-held US soldier as a "big victory".
Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was handed to US forces in Afghanistan on Saturday.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has defended the exchange amid criticism Congress was not given 30 days' notice before the detainees were released.
He said the US had to act quickly to save the soldier's life.
Sgt Bergdahl, who is said to be in good condition and has been flown to Germany for more treatment, was the only US soldier being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
"I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the entire Afghan Muslim nation," said Mullah Omar, who has made no public appearances or speeches since fleeing Afghanistan in 2001 when US-led forces toppled the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks in the US.
David Loyn, BBC News, Kabul
Pictures of Taliban militants embracing their comrades released from Guantanamo, and comments by Mullah Omar calling this a "great victory", seemed designed to enrage Republican opponents of President Barack Obama who saw the deal as soft on terrorism.
The US Defence Secretary dismissed the criticism, saying this was an exchange of prisoners of war. He said that he hoped the deal would open the way to a wider peace process.
But sources close to the Taliban say that the deal took so long to negotiate because of a US desire to widen the scope of the talks. They say that this precise deal was on the table three years ago, but the negotiations failed because the US wanted to extend the talks into areas beyond a prisoner swap.
The Afghan government want talks on their terms to be held in Afghanistan. But any progress will have to wait the outcome of the Afghan election, now expected in August.
Will soldier deal embolden US enemies?
Chuck Hagel: "No shots were fired - it went as well as it could have"