The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan says some elements of the Taliban are showing interest in peace talks.
U.S. Army General John Nicholson made the remarks on May 30, citing "offstage" contacts involving what he described as mid- and high-level Taliban leaders.
“A number of channels of dialogue have opened up between the various stakeholders in the peace process," Nicholson said.
Nicholson said he could not provide the names of specific Taliban members because the contacts are being pursued confidentially to improve the chances of advancing to actual peace talks.
"What you're seeing right now is a lot of the diplomatic activity and dialogue is occurring off the stage, and it's occurring at multiple levels," Nicholson said.
"You see mid-level, senior-level Taliban leaders engaging with Afghans," he said, adding that unspecified international organizations, foreign governments, and other interested parties also are involved.
Inside the Taliban, Nicholson said, there is a "robust dialogue" under way about ending the war.
He also said there are "many points of intersection" between Taliban and Afghan proposals for pursuing peace.
U.S. officials have spoken positively about the prospects for peace many times during the course of the 17-year war in Afghanistan, only to be disappointed.