London: NATO-led forces facilitated the passage of a senior Taliban commander to Kabul to hold talks with the Afghan government, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan said on Friday.
U.S. General David Petraeus, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said the move was part of U.S. and NATO support for President Hamid Karzai`s reconciliation discussions with the Taliban. "In certain respect we do facilitate that, given that, needless to say it would not be the easiest of tasks for a senior Taliban commander to enter Afghanistan and make his way to Kabul if ISAF were not....aware of it and therefore allows it to take place," he told an audience in London.
"That`s about as far as I can go on that at this point."
Petraeus said several "very senior" Taliban leaders had reached out to the Afghan government and other countries engaged in Afghanistan. However, he said the discussions were preliminary in nature.
"They certainly would not rise to the level of being called negotiations," he said.
U.S. and NATO leaders said on Thursday they were ready to help Afghan President Hamid Karzai pursue reconciliation efforts with the Taliban. Pakistan said on Friday it was willing to assist such talks.