U.S. wiggles around Haqqani issue

Sept. 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Washington is committed to working constructively with the Pakistanis to tackle the threat posed by the Haqqani network, a U.S. official said.

The United States and Pakistan have traded barbs over the militant Haqqani network after U.S. authorities in Afghanistan blamed the group for a 20-hour siege on Kabul.

U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stoked the controversy last week when he testified that Haqqani was "a strategic arm" of the Pakistani intelligence agency. Islamabad hit back by suggesting Haqqani was at least tacitly supported by the CIA.

Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department said Haqqani was a very clear area of concern.

"We've identified that, we've raised it at the highest levels with the Pakistanis, we've said we need to take action against the Haqqani network and we're committed at this point to working constructively with them to do that," he said. "We recognize that this is a clear threat to our security in Afghanistan."

The State Department hasn't listed the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization but has taken specific action against its leadership.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of army staff in Pakistan, said, following weekend talks with top U.S. military commanders, the "negative statements" from Washington were seen as "irritants" in bilateral ties. Nevertheless, Pakistan was "committed to achieving enduring peace in the region which will only be possible through mutual trust and cooperation."

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