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Haqqani says US sees role for him

Associated Press / October 4, 2011

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LONDON - Afghan insurgent leader Siraj Haqqani said he has been approached by the United States to join the Afghan government and denied that his militant group was behind the killing of the top Afghan peace envoy, the BBC reported yesterday.

The Pakistan-based Haqqani network, which is affiliated with both the Taliban and Al Qaeda, has been described by US and other Western nations as the top security threat in Afghanistan.

The group has been blamed for hundreds of attacks, including a 20-hour siege of the US Embassy and NATO headquarters last month. The group is led by Jalaludin Haqqani, but the ailing leader has relinquished most operational control to one of his sons, Siraj.

Last week, US officials accused Pakistan’s spy agency of supporting the Haqqanis in attacks on Western targets in Afghanistan - the most serious allegation yet of Pakistani duplicity in the 10-year war.

The United States and other members of the international community have in the past blamed Pakistan for allowing the Taliban, and the Haqqanis in particular, to retain safe havens in the country’s tribal areas along the Afghan border.

However, Haqqani told the BBC Pashtu service that while the group had contacts with a number of spy agencies, including Pakistan’s, during the Soviet invasion, there are now “no such links that could be beneficial.’’

“Right from the first day of American arrival till this day not only Pakistani but other Islamic and other non-Islamic countries including America, contacted us and they [are] still doing so. They are asking us to leave the ranks of Islamic Emirates,’’ he said referring to the Taliban leadership. He said that the outsiders have promised an “important role in the government of Afghanistan,’’ as well as negotiations.

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