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US outreach to Haqqani network signals 'fresh approach' in bid to end Afghan war

Washington, Wed, 05 Oct 2011 ANI

Washington, Oct 5(ANI): The United States' behind-the-scenes outreach to the Pakistan-based Haqqani network signals a new approach in effort to end the ten-year-old war in Afghanistan.


US officials secretly met with leaders of the deadly Haqqani network this summer, in an effort to draw them into talks on winding down the war, The Wall Street Journal reports.


The Haqqani network is regarded by US officials as an irredeemably violent militant and criminal network tied to al Qaeda and supported by the Pakistani intelligence service, the report said.


Haqqani fighters are regularly targeted by US drone strikes in Pakistan, and American officials have long said that they were beyond reconciliation.


However, the behind-the-scenes US effort reflects the growing realisation that a military campaign alone will not bring the Haqqanis to heel, and that compromises are needed to wind down US involvement in Afghanistan, the report said.


US officials had already reached that conclusion about the Taliban, saying that losses on the battlefield would drive Taliban leaders to the negotiating table, it added.


"We've got no illusions about what the Haqqanis ultimately are," said a senior US official.


But the "war is going to end with a deal. That's what we're trying to make inevitable. The more parties involved in talking, that's probably going to make for a better deal," added the official, who declined to discuss the talks with the Haqqanis, describing them as "early and not very well defined."


That also describes the wider peace effort, which has moved in fits and starts over the past two years, making little overall progress, the report said.


The US outreach is the latest chapter in a relationship between Washington and the Haqqanis that stretches back to the Afghan Mujahedeen's fight against the 1979 Soviet invasion of their country, according to the report.


Islamabad began facilitating contacts with the Haqqanis late last year and set up the meeting this summer in a Persian Gulf country, a Pakistani official was quoted as saying. (ANI)


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