The talks between Hamid Karzai and the Taliban involve the highest level of leadership and are receiving NATO's support, officials confirmed to The New York Times. Taliban officials have secretly been leaving their hideouts in Pakistan on the assurance they will not be not be attacked, and in one case Taliban leaders crossed the border on a NATO airplane. The talks are aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan. At least four Taliban leaders are taking part, but their identities are being protected. Mullah Mohammad Omar, the highest Taliban leader, has been cut out of the talks, officials said, because of his closeness to Pakistani security services. In the past, Afghan officials who have tried to participate in talks have been killed by members of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, and the current talks are being held without the approval of Pakistan’s leaders. U.S. officials have said they are not investing too much hope in the talks, after similar discussions broke down last year.