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The Taliban, which harbored al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the lead up to the 9/11 attacks on America in 2001, will have an office in Afghanistan and engage in direct talks with the democratic government there, President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai affirmed at a joint White House news conference Friday.

“Ultimately security gains must be matched by political progress, so we’ve recommitted our nations to a reconciliation process between the Afghan government and the Taliban,” Obama said. “President Karzai updated me on the Afghan government’s road map to peace, and today we agreed that this process should be advanced by the opening of a Taliban office to facilitate talks.”

Karzai agreed this would be an important step for the peace process.

“We also agreed on the steps that we should be taking in the peace process, which is of highest priority to Afghanistan,” Karzai said. “We agreed on allowing a Taliban office.”