Picture shows Germany’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Michael Steiner during a press conference in Rome. Steiner is moderating talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban. - AP (File Photo)

BERLIN: Germany is helping mediate secret, direct talks between the United States and the Afghan Taliban, with meetings taking place on German soil, Spiegel magazine reported here Sunday.

Germany’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Michael Steiner is moderating the talks, the latest round of which took place on May 7 and 8 in Germany, the magazine said.

Steiner, a trained judge and long-term diplomat, once headed the UN mission to Kosovo.

US President Barack Obama’s administration has been engaged in direct talks with senior Afghan Taliban officials, responsible for leading the fight against the western-backed Kabul government, since the autumn of 2010, Spiegel said.

Three direct meetings have so far taken place. The first was held in Qatar and the second at the turn of the year in Germany.

The US side is represented by State Department and Central Intelligence Agency officials, while the Afghan side is led by a relative of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, the magazine added.

According to the Washington Post newspaper, Obama is hoping to report progress toward a settlement of the Afghanistan war when he announces troop withdrawals in July.

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