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Karzai met Kayani, ISI chief for 'talks' with Haqqani: report

world Updated: Jun 27, 2010 23:54 IST

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has met al-Qaeda-linked militant commander Sirajuddin Haqqani along with Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the ISI boss for "face-to-face talks", Al-Jazeera channel reported on Sunday.

The channel quoted its sources as saying that the meeting took place in Kabul a few days ago.

Haqqani, whose network is based in the volatile North Waziristan tribal region in northwest Pakistan, was accompanied by Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

Al-Jazeera said Karzai has met Haqqani along with Kayani and the ISI boss Pasha for "face-to-face talks".

Afghan media too had reported that such secret meetings were taking place and that Karzai is actively trying to hammer out a deal with groups opposed to his government, Al-Jazeera said.

The Haqqani network is among the pro-Pakistan militant groups based in North Waziristan and Islamabad has been reluctant to launch military operations in the region despite considerable pressure from Washington.

Karzai's office denied on Sunday that any such meeting took place.

Pakistan's chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said he had "no knowledge of such a meeting taking place".

The Haqqani network is also described by the US as one of three main anti-government militant groups operating in Afghanistan. It is thought to be responsible for the most sophisticated attacks in Kabul and across Afghanistan.

Reports about Karzai's meeting with Haqqani have fuelled increased speculation in Kabul that Pakistan is trying to strike a deal in Afghanistan that would safeguard its interests in the country.

Observers believe Karzai is cosying up with Pakistan because the US war effort in Afghanistan is floundering and the White House plans to start withdrawing troops by July 2011.

The meeting might also be the reason behind the forced resignation earlier this month of the Afghan Interior Minister Hanif Atmar and intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, who are hard-core opponents of the Taliban.