“Outgoing US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has confirmed that the US is holding ‘outreach’ talks with members of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Mr Gates said talks were ‘preliminary’ but that a political solution was the way ‘most of these wars end.’ It is the first time the US has acknowledged such contact and comes a day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai said peace talks had started. …’There’s been outreach on the part of a number of countries, including the United States,’ Mr Gates told CNN, without naming other countries involved. ‘I would say that these contacts are very preliminary. My own view is that real reconciliation talks are not likely to be able to make any substantive headway until at least this winter.’ ”

 – “Robert Gates Confirms US-Taliban Talks in Afghanistan,” BBC News, June 19, 2011