WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama spoke on Monday with his Afghan counterpart to discuss regional support for Afghan-led reconciliation following the Afghan president’s talks with the leaders of Pakistan and Iran, the White House said.
Obama, in his conversation with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, also discussed the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran trilateral meetings held last week in Islamabad and other strategic issues of mutual concern.
The White House readout did not refer to Taliban involvement in any talks, but did express support for “Afghan-led reconciliation.”
“They agreed to speak again soon to remain closely aligned as both countries continue our efforts to achieve common goals, and work to forge a long-term partnership,” the White House said in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the US and Afghan governments had begun secret three-way talks with the Taliban, based on an interview it conducted with Karzai. Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, Umar Daudzai, told Reuters on Thursday that contacts with the Taliban were at the “exploratory” stage.
The Afghan Taliban announced last month it would open a political office in Qatar, suggesting the group may be willing to engage in negotiations. The telephone conversation also followed the Afghan leader’s assertion in a newspaper interview last week that his government was involved in talks with the Taliban, both with and without the United States.