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'New Yorker': US in Direct Talks with Taliban

A prominent U.S. magazine reported Friday the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has entered into "direct, secret talks with senior Afghan Taliban leaders."

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll, writing in The New Yorker, described the continuing talks as of "an exploratory nature" that do not yet amount to a "peace negotiation."

Coll says several people briefed about the talks told him about them last week.

The New Yorker article say the talks are the "final diplomatic achievement" of the late Richard Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The story says Holbrooke, who died suddenly in December, lived long enough to see his advice to talk to the Taliban accepted.

Earlier Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Taliban cannot defeat or outlast U.S. military pressure and must break with al-Qaida and reconcile with the Afghan government.

In a speech at the Asia Society in New York, Clinton said the Taliban faces being labeled "an enemy of the international community" if it refuses to break with al-Qaida.

Clinton also announced veteran senior diplomat Marc Grossman is coming out of retirement to become the new U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, replacing Holbrooke.

Grossman retired in 2005 as undersecretary of state for political affairs - traditionally the highest post for a career foreign service officer.

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