"As we did hold negotiations with the South Korean government, we can hold talks at an even higher level with the government," he said by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Karzai has regularly offered talks with the Taliban, and there have been rumours that contact has already been made.

The president denied on Monday that "formal negotiations" were under way with the fighters but said he was ready to start such dialogue if he could find the "address for the Taliban".

Ahmadi responded: "If they want our address - we're among the people. If they're honest for talks, we're ready for it."