ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland (AP) — President Barack Obama says the opening of a Taliban political office in Qatar is an important first step toward reconciliation between the Taliban and Afghanistan's government. But he says the process won't be quick or easy. He's predicting there will be bumps along the way.

Obama says the Taliban still must denounce al-Qaida. He's praising Afghan President Hamid Karzai for taking a courageous step by sending representatives to Qatar to discuss peace with the Taliban.

Obama spoke after meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland.

His comments come after American officials announced the U.S. will begin formal meetings with the Taliban within days at the new Taliban office in Doha, Qatar.