Momentum toward peace negotiations in Afghanistan appeared to grow as a senior NATO official said the military alliance had "facilitated" contacts between senior Taliban members and the "highest levels of the Afghan government."

The official said NATO forces in Afghanistan were granting safe passage to Taliban leaders traveling to Kabul to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government. "It would be extremely difficult for a senior Taliban member to get to Kabul without being killed or captured if ISAF were not witting, and ISAF is witting," the official told reporters. ISAF is an acronym for the International Security Assistance Force, a coalition of troops from NATO members and other allies in Afghanistan.

The official spoke in Brussels on condition of anonymity.


Six NATO troops were killed in three attacks across Afghanistan on Wednesday, military officials said, including a roadside bombing in the south that killed four troops at once.

The other two deaths occurred in a separate explosion in the south and an attack in the east, NATO said. The nationalities of those killed were not disclosed.

Meanwhile, officials said eight civilian contractors -- six Filipinos, an Indian and a Kenyan --were killed Tuesday in the crash of a cargo plane near Kabul.


Suspected U.S. drone aircraft launched four missile strikes at a house and two vehicles in northwestern Pakistan, killing 11 militants, including three foreigners, intelligence officials said.

The attacks occurred within about an hour in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan.

The United States is now suspected of carrying out 14 missile strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt this month. There were 21 such strikes in September, nearly double the previous monthly record.