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Karzai Spokesman Hints At Progress With Taliban

KABUL -- An Afghan presidential spokesman has hinted at progress in talks with elements of the Taliban aimed at defusing the long-running conflict and boosting security and prosperity in the country, Radio Free Afghanistan reported.

Speaking to journalists in Kabul, Hamayoon Hamidzada said on April 21 that the Afghan government would support any effort that could lead to peace and stability.

He did not elaborate on details of reported talks with Taliban leaders or their representatives.

He said, however, that the government is seeking the removal of some names from a United Nations list of international terrorists. Hamidzada suggested Taliban fighters who agreed to reconcile and accepted the Afghan Constitution might be removed from such lists.

For their part, Taliban leaders have said in the past that no talks with Afghan authorities are possible until all international troops leave Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has led the country since the UN-backed Bonn agreement in late 2001 and is expected to seek reelection in an upcoming election, has publicly encouraged moderate elements to distance themselves from the "enemies of Afghanistan."