U.S.-Taliban talks only "exploratory": Afghan envoy
By Serena Chaudhry
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The Afghan Taliban and the United States have made only "exploratory" contacts for possible reconciliation which do not involve the Kabul government, the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan said on Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal said that the U.S. and Afghan governments had begun secret three-way talks with the Taliban, based on an interview it conducted with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
"I must emphasize that word 'exploratory'. They are not talks," Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Umar Daudzai told Reuters.
"When there's talks, it's supposed to be between the Afghan government and the Taliban. We have not reached to that stage although we wish to reach to that stage."
The Wall Street Journal quoted Karzai as saying the Taliban were "definitively" interested in a peace settlement to end the 10-year war in Afghanistan, and that all three sides were now involved in discussions.
It said Karzai had declined to specify the location of the talks or go into further detail, saying he feared this could damage the process.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also said the group had not held talks with the Karzai government.
The Afghan Taliban announced last month it would open a political office in Qatar, suggesting the group may be willing to engage in negotiations that could likely give it government positions or official control over much of its historical southern heartland. Continued...