Afghans Attempt Peace Negotiations with Taliban

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The Afghan government says it's engaging in periodic, discreet contacts with the Taliban in an effort to bring peace to the region.

Afghan and Arab sources told The Washington Post they believe for the first time Taliban representatives are fully authorized to speak for the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban command council based in Pakistan, and its leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

But the sources -- who spoke under the condition of anonymity -- added that the Taliban are unwilling to have formal peace negotiation until the U.S. sets a timetable to withdraw all foreign troops.

The White House responded Wednesday saying President Barack Obama supports the Afghan government in trying to open peace talks, but the U.S. will not get involved.

"This is about Afghanistan," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. "It has to be done by the Afghans."

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Wednesday that while the U.S. has seen high-level Taliban members reaching out to the Afghan government, "It's too soon to suggest that there is ... a wider movement afoot - that the tide is turning in terms of reintegration and reconciliation."

The Obama administration wants the Taliban to renounce violence and their support of al Qaeda.

The Taliban have repeatedly denied any such contacts with Afghan officials, saying they will not talk peace as long as U.S. and NATO troops remain in the country.

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