President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday that Afghanistan and the United States are in peace talks with Taliban fighters, in the first official acknowledgment of such negotiations to end the decade-long war.
Mr. Karzai, who is a strong proponent of such negotiations, is known to have been making peace overtures to members of the Taliban, the movement that ruled Afghanistan for five years and sheltered al-Qaeda before being driven out of power in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
“In the course of this year, there have been peace talks with the Taliban and our own countrymen,” Mr. Karzai said. “Peace talks have started with them already and it is going well. Foreign militaries, especially the United States of America, are going ahead with these negotiations.”
Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul could not be immediately reached for comment on Saturday.
Mr. Karzai said some of the Taliban emissaries that have met with members of the peace council he set up were only representing themselves, while others were speaking for the broader movement.
Finding elements of the Taliban to negotiate with has been difficult for the Americans, as many of the movement’s leaders remain either unknown or underground since fleeing Kabul at the start of the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. However, such talks may be gaining momentum after the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday to treat al-Qaeda and the Taliban separately when it comes to U.N. sanctions, a move aimed at supporting the Afghan government’s reconciliation efforts.