Haqqani considering peace talks with US

Haqqani considering peace talks with US

PESHAWAR, Pakistan
Haqqani considering peace talks with US

Pakistani FM Khar (R) stands with Salahuddin Rabbani (2nd R), an Afghan peace envoy, prior to meeting on peace efforts between the two countries. EPA photo

The Haqqani network, seen as the most lethal insurgent faction in Afghanistan, would take part in peace talks with the United States but only under the direction of their Afghan Taliban leaders, a top faction commander said yesterday.

The Haqqanis, who operate out of the unruly border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan, say they are part of the Afghan Taliban and must act in unison in any peace process.

“However, if the central shura, headed by Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, decided to hold talks with the United States, we would welcome it,” the commander, who declined to be identified, told Reuters by telephone, referring to the militants’ leadership council.The Taliban said in March they were suspending nascent peace talks with the United States. A senior Afghan official closely involved with reconciliation efforts said last week the government had failed to secure direct talks with the Taliban and no significant progress was expected before 2014.

The United States designated the Haqqani network a terrorist organization in September.

Also, a high-level Afghan delegation arrived in Pakistan on Nov. 12 for talks on peace in the war-torn nation, but analysts warned that without Taliban involvement little would come of the negotiations. Support from Pakistan, which backed the Taliban regime that held power in Kabul from 1996 to 2001, is seen as crucial to peace in Afghanistan beyond NATO’s withdrawal, 2014.