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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks in Islamabad Friday, as Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar looks on. Clinton urged Pakistan to act swiftly to dislodge the militant Haqqani network. (AFP/Getty Images)

Clinton Says U.S. Met With Haqqanis; Pushes Pakistan On Security

Oct 21, 2011

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Pakistan to urge the country's leadership to eliminate safe havens for terrorists, says that U.S. officials met with the Haqqani network this summer. She did not say who the participants were, or what was discussed.

As the BBC reports:

Reports about such a meeting circulated over the summer but the US refused to confirm them at the time.

Mrs Clinton said the US had reached out to the Taliban and to the Haqqani network to test their sincerity and willingness to engage in a peace process.

The meeting seems to have taken place before the Haqqani network came to be publicly mentioned in the same sentence as al Qaeda. The group earned that status in September, when U.S. officials blamed it for a deadly attack and siege in Kabul, and then again in October, when news broke of its plot to assassinate Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.

And last week, reports emerged that a U.S. drone had been used to kill a senior Haqqani leader.

Clinton's trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan is meant to strengthen counter-terrorism efforts in the two countries.

From Islamabad, NPR's Jackie Northam reports for our Newscast unit:

Clinton led a high-level U.S. delegation to Pakistan, including CIA chief David Petraeus and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with senior White House officials.

Together, they pressed Pakistan's leaders to go after insurgent groups, in particular, the Haqqani network based in the country's tribal area near the Afghanistan border. Local papers here in Islamabad are presenting the meeting as the Pakistanis appealing for peace while the Americans are banging the war drum.

Jackie says that Clinton has been in long meetings with her Pakistani counterpart, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

In September, Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the Haqqani network was both dangerous and a "a veritable arm" of Pakistan's intelligence agency. And earlier this month, Sarah Handel wrote up a primer on the Haqqanis.

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