The Taliban are ready to drop their ban on schooling girls in Afghanistan, the country's education minister said on Friday, 14th January 2011.
Farooq Wardak told the UK's Times Educational Supplement a "cultural change" meant the Taliban were "no more opposing girls' education".
The Taliban - who are fighting the Kabul government - have made no public comment on the issue.
Afghan women were not allowed to work or get an education under the Taliban regime overthrown in 2001.
Mr Wardak made his comments during the Education World Forum in London.
He told the TES: "What I am hearing at the very upper policy level of the Taliban is that they are no more opposing education and also girls' education.
"I hope, Inshallah (God willing), soon there will be a peaceful negotiation, a meaningful negotiation with our own opposition and that will not compromise at all the basic human rights and basic principles which have been guiding us to provide quality and balanced education to our people," the minister added.
Across the country agreements have been struck at a local level between militants and village elders to allow girls and female teachers to return to schools, the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul reports.
Mr Wardak's words suggest the negotiations have gone beyond issues like the release of prisoners to touch on areas of government policy, correspondents say.
However, the education minister admitted historical opposition to schooling extended beyond the Taliban to the "deepest pockets" of Afghan society.