U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, confirmed on Friday that American officials have reached out to the Pakistan-based Haqqani militant network to test its interest in peace talks.
Clinton’s comments came as she, along with other Americans, called for Pakistan to do more to disband Haqqani and warned that if they fail to act, the U.S. will continue its solo strikes on the network’s leaders.
She added that the U.S. is still seeking to engage the Taliban in peace talks with Afghanistan. The Obama administration “sees a peace deal with the Taliban as the key to ending the war in Afghanistan.”
“We don’t know if this will work, but we believe strongly we must try it,” she said.
Pakistan stands accused of providing a safe haven for the Haqqanis, who are affiliated with the Taliban. The terrorist network operates on both side of the border and represents what the U.S. military has deemed “its single greatest enemy in Afghanistan.”
Clinton was the first U.S. official to publicly confirm that the outreach had occurred. She said that the meeting was coordinated by Pakistan’s intelligence service and was preliminary “to see if [the Haqqanis] would show up.”
It was also reiterated in Clinton’s comments that military operations against those unwilling to participate in the talks would be “stepped up” and that Pakistan must work on “squeezing” the Haqqani network’s safe havens.
“We’re going to continue fighting where necessary to protect our interest and so are the Pakistani military because you cannot allow terrorists to gain ground,” she said. “But we also are open to talking.”
Read more at the New York Times.