Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar has hailed peace talks with the Kabul government as "legitimate."
In a July 15 message issued ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, the reclusive figure said, "If we look into our religious regulations, we can find that meetings and even peaceful interactions with the enemies are not prohibited."
Mullah Omar added that the purpose of talks was to "bring an end to the occupation" of Afghanistan by foreign forces.
Members of the Afghan High Peace Council and Taliban representatives met in Pakistan last week for their first official talks aimed at achieving peace and reconciliation.
The Taliban and other Islamic militant groups have stepped up attacks in Afghanistan since most foreign combat troops withdrew at the end of 2014, leaving Afghans in charge of security in the country.