Appearing on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, Panetta was asked about efforts by the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai to reintegrate insurgents if they are willing to give up violence.
Panetta said he has read the same media reports "but the bottom line is that we really have not seen any firm intelligence that there's a real interest" among the Taliban, the militant allies of al-Qaida, al-Qaida itself, the Haqqanis (al-Qaida ally), TTP (Pakistani Taliban) or other militant groups.
"We have seen no evidence that they are truly interested in reconciliation, where they would surrender their arms, where they would denounce al-Qaida, where they would really try to become part of that society."
The director said his view is that unless the insurgents are convinced "that the United States is going to win and that they're going to be defeated, I think it's very difficult to proceed with a reconciliation that's going to be meaningful."
Panetta did not comment directly on the CIA's reported predator drone program in neighboring Pakistan, which the agency never discusses or even acknowledges.
He told ABC "there is no question" the United States is abiding by international law and the law of the war. That was in response to comments by a United Nations official who reportedly has raised legal questions on the program.
Panetta recalled the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States and said, "We have a duty, we have a responsibility, to defend this country so that al-Qaida never conducts that kind of attack again."