'USEFUL'

Taliban Says U.S. Official Met With Group for Peace Talks

A senior Taliban official says the group held their first direct contact with a U.S. official in a “useful” meeting about peace talks, the Associated Press reports. “The environment was positive and the discussion was useful,” the official was quoted as saying about a meeting with Alice Wells, America’s top diplomat for South Asia, earlier this week. The U.S. has yet to confirm or deny that the discussion took place. The meeting, which would be one of the biggest developments in efforts to advance a peace process in the country’s long-running war, is said to have been held in Qatar. The insurgent group had repeatedly demanded face-to-face talks with U.S. officials and pushed for the withdrawal of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops still in the country.