The Obama administration hopes to restore momentum in the spring to U.S. talks with the Taliban insurgency that had reached a critical point before falling apart this month because of objections from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.S. and Afghan officials said.

One goal of renewed talks with the insurgents would be to identify cease-fire zones that could be used as a steppingstone toward a full peace agreement that stops most fighting, a senior administration official told The Associated Press — a goal that remains far out of reach.

U.S. officials from the State Department and White House plan to continue a series of secret meetings with Taliban representatives in Europe and the Persian Gulf region next year, assuming a small group of Taliban emissaries the United States considers legitimate remains willing, two officials said