Report: U.S., Taliban, Afghans in secret talks

Former Taliban militants hold their weapons during a joining ceremony with the Afghan government in Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday Jan. 30, 2012. Mullah Abdullah, not pictured, a Taliban militant commander from Herat province joined with Afghan government along with his 30 militants under his command and handed over their weapons as part of a peace-reconciliation program. AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi

Former Taliban militants hold their weapons during a joining ceremony with the Afghan government in Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday Jan. 30, 2012.
AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi

In a bid to end the 10-year war effort in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai said his country has begun facilitating secret three-way talks with the Taliban and the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reports.

Karzai told the Journal he believes the Taliban are "definitively" interested in a peace settlement.

"There have been contacts between the U.S. government and the Taliban, there have been contacts between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and there have been some contacts that we have made, all of us together, including the Taliban," Mr. Karzai said in the interview Wednesday in his office at the Arg Palace in Kabul.

Karzai did not provide the paper any details of the talks except to say they were taking place. U.S. officials told the Journal that the three-way talks were held sometime in the past month to prepare for further contacts.

The Associated Press reports that Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied Karzai's comments that negotiations have already taken place, saying in a statement "the Taliban did not talk with the Kabul government anywhere."

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There have been numerous indications recently that the Taliban were "definitively" interested in a peace process, although some have called the Taliban's overtures merely a tactic to buy them time, legitimacy or a better position to counter the Karzai regime.

The Karzai administration had expressed concern not long ago about being left out of the peace negotiating process when the Taliban announced they were opening an office in Qatar. In response, Karzai said he was planning to hold talks with the Taliban in Saudi Arabia, although it is unclear if the most recent negotiations were held there.

Additionally, it was revealed that the Taliban's long-reclusive leader, Mullah Omar, allegedly sent a letter to the Obama administration last year indicating a willingness to come to the negotiating table.

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