Haqqanis will not talk Afghan peace alone, says commander

Reuters , Tuesday 25 Oct 2011

The Afghan Haqqani insurgent network state they will not take part individually in any peace talks with the United States, stressing that negotiations must be led by the Taliban leadership

The Americans would not be able to find a possible solution to the Afghan conflict until and unless they hold talks with the Taliban shura," a senior commander told Reuters on Tuesday, referring to the Taliban leadership council.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Islamabad with a heavyweight team of U.S. military and intelligence leaders, urged Pakistan to persuade the Haqqanis to pursue peace.

She also warned that tough action would have to be taken against Afghan and Pakistani militants if they did not cooperate in efforts to stabilise Afghanistan.

The Haqqani commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, viewed her efforts with scepticism.

"This is not the first time the U.S. has approached us for peace talks. The Americans had made several such attempts for talks which we rejected as we are an integral part of the Taliban led by Mullah Mohammad Omar," he said.

"We are united and our goal is to liberate our homeland Afghanistan from the clutches of occupying forces."

Clinton said the United States had held preliminary meetings with the Haqqani network -- arguably the most dangerous Afghan insurgent faction -- and was working with Afghanistan and Pakistan to try to put together a peace process.

Taliban leader Omar has been in hiding since the Taliban were forced from power by U.S.-led forces after refusing to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

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