Taliban leader Mullah Omar Wednesday hailed as “legitimate” peace talks aimed at ending Afghanistan’s 13-year war, in his first comments on the nascent dialogue, easing concerns that it lacked the leaderships backing. Afghan officials sat down with Taliban cadres last week in Murree in Pakistan, for their first face-to-face talks aimed at ending the bloody insurgency. They agreed to meet gain in the coming weeks, drawing international praise. In his annual Eid-ul-Fitr message, the reclusive leader backed negotiations. “If we look into our religious regulations, we can find that meetings and even peaceful interactions with the enemies is not prohibited,” he said in a statement on the Taliban’s website. “Concurrently with armed jihad, political endeavours and peaceful pathways for achieving these sacred goals is a legitimate Islamic principle.” Several informal meetings have been held in recent months between Taliban representatives and Afghan officials and activists, but last week’s meeting is seen as a significant step forward. Afghan officials have not said when or where the next round of negotiations will take place, but it is widely expected to be conducted after Eid.