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Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul January 25, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: POLITICS)

U.S. discusses Afghan troop levels; Kabul holds talks with Taliban

U.S. President Barack Obama met his senior military commanders to discuss the American presence in Afghanistan as officials in Kabul confirmed President Hamid Karzai’s government has been holding secret talks with Taliban insurgents.

The United States said it welcomed any talks that would bring peace to Afghanistan.

“It’s important to note here that we’ve long strongly supported an Afghan-led reconciliation, which would, of course, be Afghans talking to Afghans,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “So the notion that we wouldn’t support that dialogue is inaccurate.”

She added that the United States was not in discussions with the Taliban.

In Kabul, Karzai’s spokesman confirmed a New York Times report that the government was holding talks with the Taliban in the hope of persuading them to make peace.

“I can confirm that … Taliban are willing more than ever to join the peace process,” Aimal Faizi said. “Contacts have been made and we are also in touch with them.”

A member of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council also confirmed that talks had taken place, but was measured in his assessment of their success.

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