Al-Qaeda's second-in-command has suggested the US will be forced to talk to al-Qaeda if it wants to extricate itself from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Zawahiri said al-Qaeda would continue to target the US
Speaking in a video aired on al-Jazeera TV, Ayman al-Zawahiri said the US was not talking to "the real powers" in the region and its negotiations would fail.
He also said al-Qaeda would continue to strike on US soil so long as Muslims came under attack in the Islamic world.
Analysts say this may be the first time al-Qaeda has hinted at talks.
In the video, Zawahiri also spoke out against elections in the Palestinian territories, saying only "jihad", or holy war, would "liberate Palestine".
The deputy to Osama Bin Laden said President George W Bush was deceiving Americans by telling them he was making them more secure by going after "terrorists" in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Your safety lies in the following equation: you will not dream of security until we live secure in Palestine and all Muslim lands," he said.
Zawahiri said that Republicans and Democrats "frantically looking for a way out of the disasters" in Iraq and Afghanistan were talking to the wrong parties.
"It seems you will endure a painful journey of failed negotiations, only to be forced to turn back and negotiate with the real powers."
This is undoubtedly a reference to al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups, the BBC's defence and security correspondent Rob Watson says.
Although al-Qaeda has previously offered truces to the Western world, some analysts say this is the first time it has hinted at talks, our correspondent says.
While it could, of course, be a bluff, some analysts believe the suggestion could be serious and a reflection of al-Qaeda's self-confidence.
Privately, some counter-terrorism officials argue the idea of talking to al-Qaeda is not inconceivable, our correspondent adds, but for the foreseeable future at least it seems extremely unlikely.
The video message, which showed Zawahiri in a white robe and black turban with a rifle behind his shoulder, was his 15th such this year.
Only a few excerpts from the message were initially shown and it was unclear when the video was shot.