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Karzai Claims Taliban Willing To Talk To Government

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the Taliban has for the first time expressed interest in talking with his U.S.-backed government.

Speaking to journalists in Tokyo on July 9, Karzai said representatives of the Afghan Peace Council met representatives of the Taliban and another opposition group, Hizb-e Islami, two weeks ago at a gathering organized by Doshisha University in the Japanese city of Kyoto.

Karzai said a Taliban senior representative, Qari Din Mohammad, announced the militants are willing to talk to the Afghan government. Karzai said the meeting discussed "how to reach a peaceful settlement."

A purported Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, confirmed the participation of a Taliban representative in the Kyoto gathering but said the group has made no promises.

The insurgents have previously rejected direct talks with Kabul and have insisted on talking to the United States instead.

With reporting by the BBC