The top US envoy for South Asia has met with Taliban officials for peace talks in Qatar, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
Alice Wells, the senior official for the State Department's Bureau of South and Central Asia Affairs, met with the Taliban this week to try to find a new path toward ending Afghanistan's 17-year conflict, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
A member of the Taliban's leadership council -- the Quetta Shura -- confirmed to AFP that members of the militant group had met with US officials in Doha on Monday.
The Taliban leader did not name Wells but said "a woman" was in the US delegation.
The first round of talks was aimed at building trust between the two sides, he told AFP. The next meeting, which could happen as early at July 31, would be "more important."
An unprecedented three-day ceasefire involving Afghan security forces and the Taliban last month had raised hopes that peace was possible in the war-torn country. But fighting resumed and Western and Afghan observers in Kabul have said the United States needs to speak directly to the Taliban to keep momentum going.
The Taliban have long insisted on direct talks with the United States, which Washington has repeatedly refused, saying negotiations must be Afghan-led.