U.S. in Direct, Secret Talks With Taliban, New Yorker Reports

Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration is secretly in direct talks with senior Taliban leaders, the New Yorker magazine reported, citing unidentified people briefed on the discussions.

The talks are exploratory and aren’t yet working toward negotiating an end to the fighting between the Taliban, U.S. and NATO forces, the magazine said.

Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Afghan Taliban leader, isn’t participating in the latest discussions, nor does he attend secret underground meetings of Taliban in Pakistani safe houses, the New Yorker said.

The U.S.-led talks are aimed at producing a more fruitful result than recent contacts between the Afghan government and Taliban leaders, the magazine said. The U.S. wouldn’t be directly involved unless the discussions focused on the presence of international forces in Afghanistan or Taliban prisoners in American custody, the New Yorker said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Hart in Washington at dahart@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sylvia Wier at swier@bloomberg.net