KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday welcomed remarks from the Obama administration saying that Taliban insurgents were not America's enemies.
Earlier this month, Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview with Newsweek magazine that the Islamist militants did not represent a threat to U.S. interests unless they continued to shelter al-Qaida.
Biden's comments came amid reports that the Obama administration and other governments are trying to establish a peace process with the Taliban to help end the 10-year war.
"I am very happy that the American government has announced that the Taliban are not their enemies," Karzai said in a speech to the Afghan Academy of Sciences. "We hope that this message will help the Afghans reach peace and stability."
A senior U.S. official has told The Associated Press that Washington plans to continue a series of secret meetings with Taliban representatives in Europe and the Persian Gulf region next year.
The U.S. outreach this year had progressed to the point that there was active discussion of two steps the Taliban seeks as precursors to negotiations, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Trust-building measures under discussion involve setting up a Taliban headquarters office and the release from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, of about five Afghan prisoners believed affiliated with the Taliban.
On Tuesday, Karzai said his government would accept the Taliban establishing a liaison office in Turkey, Qatar or Saudi Arabia for the purpose of holding peace talks.