By Mujib Mashal, June 21, 2015, published in The New York Times.

KABUL, Afghanistan —  Taliban envoys have been busy over the past month, shuttling from conferences in one world capital to the next, in the biggest rush of activity on the Afghan peace front in years.

They have held informal talks with Afghan technocrats and former rival guerrillas, party leaders and lawmakers. And those participants have reported back about how the Taliban delegates have dropped some of the hard-line stances that characterized most of their previous statements about political conciliation.

So why, after years of little progress, are the Taliban suddenly so accessible?

One clue may lie in whom the Taliban are not talking to: Despite an all-out effort by President Ashraf Ghani to open direct talks with the Taliban in recent months, the insurgents have yet to meet formally with anyone representing his government. When government officials have ended up in the same international meetings as the Taliban envoys, the insurgents have been quick to put out statements denying rumors of face-to-face discussions.

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