Afghanistan, US in contact with Haqqani insurgents

Haqqani network is one of the most feared foes of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

London: The Afghan and US governments have recently made contact with insurgent group, the Haqqani network, one of the most feared foes of NATO forces in Afghanistan, a British paper reported on Thursday.

The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai took part in direct talks with senior members of the Haqqani group over the summer, said the Guardian daily, citing Pakistani and Arab sources.

The United States, through a Western intermediary, has made indirect contacts over the past year, said the paper.

Talks between the Haqqanis and both countries were extremely tentative, it added.

The Haqqani network`s leadership is based in North Waziristan, in Pakistan`s tribal northwest, an area which has been targeted by a wave of US drone strikes in recent weeks.

The group is loyal to the Taliban and has been blamed for some of the most deadly strikes in Afghanistan. It has close ties with foreign militant groups including al Qaeda.

Asked whether talks involving Haqqani, Karzai and the US were taking place, a senior Pakistani official cited in the paper said "you wouldn`t be wrong" but refused to comment further.

Western, Arab and Pakistani official sources cited in the paper said the Haqqanis believe a negotiated settlement is the most likely outcome of the Afghan conflict and do not want to be left out of any deal.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has taken over military leadership of the Haqqani group from his father Jalaluddin, "realises he could be a nobody if he doesn`t enter the process”, said a diplomat involved in the discussions.

Bureau Report

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