Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the United States is in contact with the Taliban about a possible settlement to the near decade-long war in Afghanistan.
In Washington, White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden would not confirm any contacts with the Taliban, but said the United States supported reconciliation in Afghanistan.
Diplomats have already said there have been months of preliminary talks between the two sides, and Karzai has long said Afghans are in contact with insurgent groups.
But Karzai's remarks at a press conference in Kabul on June 18 are thought to be the first official confirmation of any U.S. involvement in the negotiations.
"Peace negotiations with the Taliban and with other countrymen have been started -- those who accept the constitution, freedom, democracy, and development of Afghanistan can take part in this negotiation, and peace talks are going on with the Taliban," Karzai said.
"The foreign military and especially the United States itself are going ahead with these negotiations."
Karzai was also quoted as saying that the stage where the government and the insurgents were meeting had not been reached yet, but that their representatives had been in touch.
with agency reports