The discussions with members of the Afghan High Peace Council have so far been unofficial and preliminary, according to Afghan officials and a senior Taliban representative.

Habibullah Fauzi, a former Taliban diplomat who is now a member of Karzai's High Peace Council, said that some individuals (on the peace council) have met Taliban on an individual basis. He also said he'd heard reports of meetings in Saudi Arabia between High Peace Council members and Taliban who were in that country to perform the Islamic pilgrimages of Umrah and Hajj.

"The Afghan government certainly is in contact with certain leaders and certain figures among the Taliban," Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Janan Musazai had said on Monday.

The Taliban marked the opening of their political office in Qatar by flying their white flag, emblazoned with a Quranic verse, and a sign that identified it as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Peace talks involving the United States that were to follow the official opening ended before they could begin. Last week US Secretary of State John Kerry sought Pakistan's help to press the Taliban into opening negotiations with Karzai's representatives. The Taliban's leadership is believed to be living in Pakistan.

"The hope is that they will start talks soon with the High Peace Council," Sartaj Aziz, adviser to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on national security and foreign affairs, said.

(Agencies)

Latest News from World News Desk