U.S. envoy James Dobbins says an earlier attempt to reconcile with Taliban figures willing to respect a new Afghan constitution would have saved lives and weakened Taliban insurgents.

Speaking Friday in London, he said an earlier move might have prevented a Taliban resurgence and certainly would have lessened its force. The Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan spoke after what he called routine talks with Britain's Foreign Office.

He said the U.S. decision to focus on Iraq gave the Taliban time to regroup and raise the funds needed to relaunch its insurgency.

Hopes for peace talks have diminished with the Taliban refusing to talk directly to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, his government or its representatives. Attempts to open talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban in June ended in failure.