NEW YORK The United States is reportedly allowing the free movement of senior Taliban leaders to attend peace talks in the Afghan capital, in a clear indication that the Obama Administration is backing the negotiations aimed at ending the nine-year conflict. The New York Times reported on Thursday, quoting a senior NATO official, there has been outreach by very senior members of the Taliban to the highest levels of the Afghan govt. The White House has backed the talks with the Taliban, but said the US was not a party to the reported contacts between Kabul and militia leaders. The Washington Post had earlier reported that the Taliban and Karzai govt had begun high-level talks over a negotiated end to the war, which it said were authorized by Taliban leader Mullah Omar. We and the Afghans have said that ... requires a renunciation of Al-Qaeda, following Afghan law and a renunciation of violence, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, adding that such talks had to be conducted by Afghans. This is not something that we do with the Taliban. This is something that the Afghan government has to do with people in Afghanistan. The Post cited unnamed Afghan and Arab sources as saying the talks were believed, for the first time, to involve representatives authorized by Mullah Omar. They are very, very serious about finding a way out, a source close to the talks told the Post, referring to the Taliban. Omar and other Taliban leaders on both sides of the border have insisted for years that no peace talks were possible before foreign fighters had left Afghanistan. But sources told the Post that the leadership knows that they are going to be sidelined, and was negotiating to ensure their positions were protected. The negotiations involve agreements to allow Taliban leaders positions in the Afghan govt and the withdrawal of US and NATO forces, the newspaper said. But the talks are believed to exclude representatives of the Haqqani group, which the Post said was the target of recently escalated US drone attacks. US General David Petraeus, the commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, said last week that the Taliban was approaching the Afghan government and foreign forces with overtures about quitting the fight. A Taliban spokesman dismissed Petraeuss comments as completely baseless, however, saying the insurgents would not negotiate with foreign invaders or their puppet government. This is an Afghan-led process. We will support that process. But ultimately, youre talking about the composition of the political structure and civil society within Afghanistan, and this is rightly decisions for the Afghan Government and Afghan people to make, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters. The 70-member High Council for Peace, led by Burhanuddin Rabbai, began its work on Wednesday, hoping that it would succeed in ending the war with Taliban. Well, on an ongoing basis we are evaluating modifications to the individuals on the sanctions list at the UN. Weve made some adjustments during the course of this year. And as we work through issues and in collaboration with the UN and other members of the Security Council, that is certainly possible, he said. We have been talking to the Taliban as countryman to countryman talk in that manner, not as a regular official contact with the Taliban with effects to address, but rather unofficial personal contacts have been going on for quite some time. Now that the peace council has come into existence, these talks will go on and will go on officially and more rigorously, I hope, Karzai said. No official contacts with a known entity that reports to a body of Taliban that comes back and reports to us regularly, that hasnt happened yet. We hope we can begin that as soon as possible. But contacts, of course, have been there between various elements of the Afghan govt at the level of community and also at political level, Karzai said in response to a question during an interview to CNN. Pakistan has insisted that any lasting solution in Afghanistan must involve reconciliation with the Taliban, and has urged the United States to participate in peace talks, The Times said. In Kabul on Thursday, Rabbani expressed optimism. I had talks with people related to the Taliban, he said, and I can feel willingness among the Taliban lines towards peace. Meanwhile, a diplomat in Kabul said that two government officials had been traveling to the eastern province of Khost to meet with representatives from the Haqqani network, Taliban allies operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The diplomat asked not to be named according to standard diplomatic ground rules of anonymity.