At the news conference, Obama indicated that he was open to the plan. He said the jirga would provide a basis for future talks.

“What we’ve said is that so long as there’s a respect for the Afghan Constitution, rule of law, human rights; so long as they are willing to renounce violence and ties to Al Qaeda and other extremist networks; that President Karzai should be able to work to reintegrate those individuals into Afghan society,” Obama said.

The president added an important caveat: To maximize leverage in such negotiations, the coalition needs more success in routing the Taliban.

“One of the things I emphasized to President Karzai, however, is, that the incentives for the Taliban to lay down arms, or at least portions of the Taliban to lay down arms, and make peace with the Afghan government in part depends on our effectiveness in breaking their momentum militarily,” Obama said.