"The administration has accelerated direct talks with the Taliban, initiated several months ago, that U.S. officials say they hope will enable President Obama to report progress toward a settlement of the Afghanistan war when he announces troop withdrawals in July.
"A senior Afghan official said a U.S. representative attended at least three meetings in Qatar and Germany, one as recently as eight or nine days ago, with a Taliban official considered close to Mohammad Omar, the group's leader.
"State Department spokesman Michael A. Hammer on Monday declined to comment on the Afghan official's assertion, saying the United States had a broad range of contacts across Afghanistan and the region, at many levels. ... We're not going to get into the details of those contacts."