President Jalal Talabani met recently with representatives of armed groups and is optimistic they may agree to lay down their weapons, his office said Sunday.

"I think we may reach an agreement with seven armed groups that visited me and I met with them," his office said in a statement, without indicating when the meeting took place.

Talabani spokesman Kamran Qaradaghi refused to identify the groups, although they were presumed to be Sunni Arab insurgents.

It was the first time a senior Iraqi official has acknowledged meeting with figures from the insurgency, although U.S. officials have said privately they have conferred directly with Iraqis who claimed to have contacts with insurgents.

Last year, Talabani offered to meet with representatives of insurgent groups except al-Qaida in Iraq or Saddam Hussein loyalists.