After a meeting with Mr. Karzai earlier this month in Washington, President Obama said the U.S.-led military coalition would hand over the lead for security around the country to Afghan forces this spring — months ahead of schedule. Mr. Obama also said he agreed with Mr. Karzai that the Taliban should open a political office in Qatar to facilitate peace talks.
Moreover, Pakistan, a power broker in the region, said last week that it plans to release more Afghan militant detainees before international troops finish their drawdown in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Islamabad made the announcement after talks with Afghan and U.S. officials in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Pakistan is thought to be holding more than 100 Taliban prisoners and so far has released 26.
Kabul has pressed hard for Pakistan to release Afghan detainees, with some officials saying that they hope the released Taliban can serve as intermediaries to help prospective talks gain traction. But Washington is worried that some of the detainees might rejoin the fight if released.
Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez and Heidi Vogt contributed to this article.