A chairman of the council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, was assassinated in 2011.
Also Tuesday, U.S. officials confirmed that four NATO-led security force service members died following an attack in eastern Afghanistan.
Karzai appointed the peace council almost three years ago in hopes of negotiating a political settlement, but until Tuesday he had little to show for it.
Taliban leaders repeatedly had dismissed the idea of negotiating with Karzai, whom they consider a puppet of Western governments. But they said Tuesday they were willing to engage in the talks, releasing a statement that said they opposed the use of Afghan soil to threaten other countries and supported an Afghan peace process. White House officials said the two statements are a first step toward distancing the movement from international terrorism and that they fulfill the requirements for the Taliban to start negotiations.
Yet, even as they hailed the move as an important first step, senior administration officials acknowledged the hurdles posed by more than 30 years of armed conflict in Afghanistan, noting that the trust level on both sides is extremely low.
Many insurgencies end in negotiated peace, said a senior administration official who requested anonymity to discuss the talks. But theres no guarantee that this will happen quickly, if at all.
Obama said the Taliban and other insurgent groups will need to break ties with al Qaida, end violence and accept an Afghan constitution, including protections for women and minorities.
The move drew condemnation from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who said he was concerned the administration had agreed to talks despite little indication that the Taliban is serious about cutting its ties to al Qaida, renouncing terrorism or respecting the Afghan government.
Afghan women, in particular, are likely to watch the talks warily. Some have said that if negotiations bring the Taliban into the government, it could erode the modest gains in rights women have made in the past few years.
Any progress could take years, said Ronald Neumann, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005-07. He noted it took the Taliban nearly a year to issue Tuesdays quiet statement saying it supported peace talks.
If it takes a year to get that, it might take a good long time to get any more substance, he said.
In 2011, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton first announced the administrations support for direct negotiations with the Taliban, which Karzai had embraced before.
The U.S. effort to start talks had made only fitful progress over the past two years, with one early stumbling block a Taliban demand that the United States release some prisoners it holds at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The Taliban is holding a U.S. soldier, Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, of the 1st Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, who was taken prisoner four years ago.
There is no agreement for a detainee exchange, but a senior administration official said the issue is a topic for the types of discussions that the U.S. will have with the Taliban.
White House officials say they expect the first meeting to be an exchange of agendas rather than detailed discussion, and it is likely to be followed with a second meeting in a few weeks.
One of the things we want to talk about from the beginning is how theyre going to cut ties with al Qaida how quickly, exactly how theyre going to do it, what it means, the senior administration official said.
At least one potential problem with a negotiated settlement aimed at ending the violence is that the Taliban may not be able to speak for all the insurgent groups fighting in Afghanistan, including the Haqqani Network, which has been blamed for many suicide attacks, particularly in the capital of Kabul.
The White House said it believes the Haqqanis will be represented by the negotiators, dubbed the Taliban Political Commission and authorized by Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar.
The Taliban has said it wants NATO forces out of Afghanistan, but the Obama administration has negotiated a strategic partnership with Afghanistan for support after 2014.
White House officials said the exact scope of the U.S. presence has yet to be determined, but that if the talks lead to a decrease in violence, it could change U.S. calculations.
The levels and nature of our presence are obviously going to be influenced, on the one hand, by levels of violence in Afghanistan, and on the other hand, by the presence or absence of international terrorists in or around Afghanistan, the senior administration official said.
Jay Price of the McClatchy Foreign Staff contributed from Kabul, Afghanistan.